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Why pandas are black and white and 24 other things you might not know about these animals.

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Disneynature's Born In China

Is there anything cuter than a panda bear?

[rebelmouse-image 19528854 dam="1" original_size="500x375" caption="GIF via Toronto Zoo/YouTube." expand=1]GIF via Toronto Zoo/YouTube.

I mean, really ... just look at that face.


Image via iStock.

It’s no accident that these adorable creatures have come to symbolize vulnerable species worldwide — they are simply irresistible. Scientists even have a name for species like pandas — "charismatic megafauna" — because these animals have such widespread popular appeal that they can help mobilize people into getting involved in conservation efforts all around the world.

In China, pandas — or Xiongmao as they are called there — have become a national treasure. People come from all over the world just for the chance to see one of these beloved black-and-white cutie pies.

But how much do you really know about this bear? Here are 25 things that you should know about the un-bear-ably cute panda.

Image via iStock.

1. For years, scientists weren’t sure if pandas were a type of bear, raccoon, or something else entirely. (Goofy fluff monster perhaps?) But recent genetic studies have shown that they are, in fact, bears.

They can be pretty goofy though, especially as cubs. Image via iStock.

2. Their fur might look silky and soft, but it's actually thick and coarse to keep them clean and warm.

3. The giant panda's range once included central, southern, and eastern China, as well as neighboring Myanmar and northern Vietnam.

But today, their habitat has been reduced to just 20 isolated patches of misty bamboo forests in western China.

4. The forests that pandas call home are located high in the mountains — at least 4,000 feet above sea level. And in the summer, pandas can climb as high as 13,000 feet in search of food.

The Sichuan province in China — one of the regions home to giant pandas. Image via iStock.

5. Pandas play a crucial role in keeping their habitat healthy because when they roam, they spread seeds, helping vegetation grow.

A panda at the Shaanxi Panda Sanctuary in China. Image via iStock.

6. Scientists didn’t know why pandas were so distinctly black and white until recently. Turns out, it helps them camouflage and communicate.

According to a March 2017 study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, their colors help them blend into their snowy and shady environments, while their black ears signal aggression to predators. In addition, their black eye patches help them recognize other pandas.

Image via iStock.

7. They are known as “giant” pandas because as adults, they can weigh as much as 330 pounds.

But when they are born, they are anything but giant: They weigh only 3.5 ounces, roughly the same weight as your cellphone.

Image via iStock.

8. Pandas actually have the digestive system of a carnivore but have adapted to a vegetarian diet.

They don’t have the extra stomachs that some herbivores, such as cows, have to help digest plants and grasses. This means they only digest about a fifth of what they eat.  

9. In order to survive, they must spend about 12 hours eating and chow down on 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo every single day.

Image via iStock.

10. While bamboo makes up 99% of their diet, they sometimes also eat flowers, roots, honey (just like Winnie the Pooh!), fish, birds, and even the occasional rodent.

11. Pandas have an elongated wrist bone that functions like a thumb and helps them grab onto bamboo stalks while they are eating.

Image via iStock.

They also have very broad and flat molars to help them crush bamboo shoots, leaves, and stems as they chomp away.

12. Unlike most bears, pandas don’t hibernate. This is because their diet of bamboo — which is low in nutrients — doesn’t allow them to store enough fat for hibernation.

So during the winter, the bears survive by simply heading down the mountains to warmer parts of the forest.

13. But because of their unique diet of bamboo, their poop could be used as biofuel.

Pandas have a short intestinal tract, with some pretty strong microbes living in there to help them digest all that tough bamboo quickly. These microbes are so potent that they could be useful to scientists looking for a new fuel source.

14. Pandas spend up to 12 hours sleeping every day.

Image via iStock.

This allows them expend fewer calories in a day, saving energy. (And sometimes they sleep on their backs — which is adorable!)

15. They can climb trees and swim.

Image via iStock.

16. Pandas don't really play well with others.

Except when it’s time to mate (or when a mother is rearing her cubs), pandas go to great lengths to avoid each other and remain solitary. If two pandas run into each other, they’ll growl, swat, lunge, and even bite each other.

17. You won't see a panda roar, but they are very vocal.

Giant pandas make a number of different sounds, including honks, huffs, barks, howls, and bleats, which sounds just like a lamb or goat.  Young cubs also croak and squeal.

18. Smell is important to pandas because it helps them communicate with each other.

Image via iStock.

Pandas have scent glands under their tail and secrete a substance that they use to mark trees, rocks, bamboo, and bushes — and the smell is so strong, even humans can smell it.

19. The scent marks they leave are like individual ID cards — they tell other pandas smelling them a whole lot about themselves.

Each scent mark tells pandas the age, sex, reproductive condition, and social status of the bear that left it — as well as how long the scent has been there. Each one is believed to be unique.

20. Male pandas like to leave their scent high up on a tree, so they’ll perform “handstands” to get it up there.

21. Pandas are commonly believed to be poor breeders, but this isn’t actually true.

[rebelmouse-image 19528867 dam="1" original_size="1500x821" caption="A newborn cub and her mother at a panda research center in China. Image via BBC Earth/YouTube." expand=1]A newborn cub and her mother at a panda research center in China. Image via BBC Earth/YouTube.

They only breed once every two to three years though, and it is very difficult to get them to mate in captivity, which is why so many people have the wrong impression about their fertility. But, according to the World Wildlife Fund, their reproductive rates are actually comparable to those of the thriving American black bear.

22. In the wild, a typical female panda will give birth to about five litters in her lifetime.

A female panda and her cub. Image via iStock.

23. A panda litter is usually one or two cubs, which are born blind and don’t open their eyes for 45 days.

Cubs are completely dependent on their mothers for the first 14 months of their lives, and they don’t usually leave her until they are 18-24 months old.

Image via iStock.

24. Today, pandas have fewer predators than they did historically.

Tigers once lived in their range, but they no longer do, and leopards that are found in the region are reduced in numbers. However, golden cats, yellow-throated marten, dhole, and weasels live in the same habitats and are known to prey on cubs.

25. But now pandas have a new threat: humans.

Large areas of bamboo forests have been cleared for agriculture, timber, and fuelwood, which has reduced their habitat and made it harder for them to find bamboo. Not only that, but roads and railroads have fragmented forests, isolating panda populations from each other and preventing them from being able to mate and reproduce.

Poaching is still a problem too. Stricter laws and greater public awareness have helped rein in the problem, but pandas are still sometimes killed by poachers, or they are harmed accidentally by traps and snares set for other animals.

But there is some good news. The number of wild pandas is actually growing, thanks to conservation efforts over the past decade.

A panda climbing a tree in the Chengdu region of China. Image via iStock.

In fact, the number of wild giant pandas has increased from 1,596 in 2003 to 1,864 in 2015  — nearly 17%. In September 2016, their conservation status was updated from “endangered” to “vulnerable.”

Of course, pandas still need our help because they are not out of danger just yet. They still need our support so their populations can keep growing. And that way, maybe one day soon, we can have a thriving population of pandas in China once again.

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

Michael B. Jordan speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Black Panther", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

As long as humans have endeavored to do anything great, there have been those who have tried to take them down. These are the opposite of the creators in life: the bullies, haters and naysayers who only want to bring people down to their level.

But when you have a dream and desire, its easy to tune out the voices of negativity. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

Some folks use the naysayers as fuel to push them to work even harder. Basketball legend Michael Jordan was infamous for letting his thirst for revenge drive him to even greater heights on the court.


Another Michael Jordan, "Black Panther" star, Michael B. Jordan, came face to face with someone who doubted that he could reach his dreams, and he wasn’t shy about letting her know that he remembered. What's Upworthy about the encounter is that he did so with class and confidence.

In 2023, Jordan was on the red carpet for the premiere of "Creed III," a film he starred in and directed. He was interviewed by “The Morning Hustle” radio show host Lore’l, who had recently admitted on the “Undressing Room” podcast that she used to make fun of him in school.

“You know what’s so crazy? I went to school with Michael B. Jordan at a point in life,” Lore’l said. “And to be honest with you, we teased him all the damn time because his name was Michael Jordan. Let’s start there, and he was no Michael Jordan.”

“He also would come to school with a headshot,” she added. “We lived in Newark. That’s the hood. We would make fun of him like, ‘What you gonna do with your stupid headshot?’ And now look at him!”

In addition, her co-host, Eva Marcille, referred to Jordan as “corny.”

Jordan had no problem discussing their past on the red carpet. “We go way back, all the way back to Chad Science [Academy] in Newark,” Lore’l told the actor. Oh yeah, I was the corny kid, right?” Jordan responded with a smirk.

“No, you did not hear me say that! I said we used to make fun of the name,” Lore’l said.

“I heard it,” Jordan said. “I heard it. It’s all good. What’s up?” he responded. “But yeah, [you are] obviously killing things out here…you’re not corny anymore,” Lore’l clarified.

After the exchange went viral, Lore’l admitted that she teased Jordan in school, but they were only classmates for one year.

“So the narrative that I bullied him all throughout high school—this was 7th grade. We were like 12 years old, and everyone made fun of each other,” Lore’l said. “That was school, you know. That was one year. And, again, I’ve never bullied him. That just sounds so outrageous to me.”

Jordan later shared some advice on how to deal with bullies.

"Just stay focused, just stay locked in,” he told a reporter from Complex. “You know, just follow your heart, try to block out the noise and distractions as much as possible and run your race. Don't compare yourself to anybody else. Just keep going."

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Parenting

Mom creates a stir after refusing to drop her child off at a parent free birthday party

"I loved drop off parties. I didn't want to sit at some kids party."

Photos by Ivan Samkov and Gustavo Fring|Canva

Mom refuses to let kid go to "drop-off" birthday party

There are many Millennial moms that were raised on "Unsolved Mysteries" and "America's Most Wanted" during formative years, which may or may not have influenced the way they parent. It can be hard to think clearly when Robert Stack's voice is echoing in your head every time your child is out of eyesight. The jokes about what is responsible for the average Millennial's parenting style resembling more like a helicopter are endless. But sometimes additional caution is warranted where others may find it unnecessary.

At least that's what many folks on the internet believe after one mom seemingly split parents into two camps with her revelation about children's parties. Liv, who goes by the TikTok handle Liv SAHM, takes to social media to explain that her seven-year-old son was invited to a birthday party but when she went to RSVP, she noticed the invitation said, "drop off only."

The mom explains, "It's at someone's house. I don't know these parents. I don't know that there's actually going to be other adults besides this child's parents."


Liv states that she would not be dropping her young child off alone with strangers. To many parents this seems like a reasonable response. If you don't know the parents or any other adults then how can you ensure your child will be safe. Other parents felt like Liv was completely overreacting with a helicopter parenting style.

"Little kids have been going to peoples birthday parties without clingy parents for decades," one person declares.

"I'm a drop off kinda house. I want the parents to leave that is one less person I have to feed. I don't wanna have to make small talk with other parents," another says.

"That's a big no for me too! And I always try to take my kids to classmates parties because people never show up," someone writes.

"That's so worrisome. I completely agree with you mama bear, same with my son," a commenter says.

"Yeah, that would make me uncomfortable too! It's always a little interesting to me when parents drop off their kids at parties," someone else adds.

@livsahm

No thank you! I don’t feel comfortable with that. #mom #momsoftiktok #momlife #sahm #sahmlife #birthday #birthdayparty #celebration #controversial #parenting #parentingtips #parents #no

There's no right or wrong way to throw a party for a kid because there's no rulebook. Generally parents are accustomed to seeing invitations that say no siblings or the offer of parents staying or leaving. Many commenters pointed out that it seemed odd that the invitation was worded in a way that sounded like parents staying wasn't an option.

Some parents noted that the world has changed since they were children and wouldn't feel safe dropping their kids off either. Others found no issue with it and think fellow parents are overreacting. What do you say, odd or perfectly fine?

Family

Dad shares what happens when you give your child books instead of a smartphone

The key to fostering healthy habits in children is to be wholly present and reject the “pressures of convenience”

via Armando Hart (used with permission)

Armando Hart and his son, Raya.

One of the most pressing dilemmas for parents these days is how much screen time they should allow their children. Research published by the Mayo Clinic shows that excessive screen time can lead to obesity, disrupted sleep, behavioral issues, poor academic performance, exposure to violence and a significant reduction in playtime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to 1 to 2 hours daily for children over 2. But American children spend far more time in front of screens than that and the situation is only worsening.

Before the pandemic, kids between the ages of 4 and 12 spent an average of 4.4 hours a day looking at screens, but since 2020, the average child’s daily screen time has increased by 1.75 hours.


A father in Long Beach, California, is getting some love for his TikTok video sharing what happens when you give your kid books instead of an iPhone. Armando Hart posted a video showing his 10-year-old son, Raya, reading a book in the back of a car and it’s been seen over 8 million times.

"Give them books instead of phones when they are little and this is the result," the caption reads. "Thank me later."

We’re so blessed with our son Raya. I think he’s read more books than I have.

@lifeinmotion08

We’re so blessed with our son Raya. I think he’s read more books than I have. #Books #Read #Fyp

Hart and his wife started reading to their son every night before bedtime, hoping to instill a love for books. "It was all about leading by example and creating a nurturing environment where reading was celebrated," Hart told Newsweek. These days, Raya is an avid reader who enjoys just about anything.

“My son likes novels, fiction, nonfiction, and realistic fiction,” Hart told Upworthy. “He also likes informative content, such as reading the almanac and other informative magazines. He loves to build, cook from recipes, and make art.”

For Hart, reading is all about creating a sense of balance in his son’s life.

“It's not about being against technology but about fostering a balanced approach that prioritizes meaningful experiences and hands-on learning,” he told Upworthy. “By instilling a love for reading, creativity, and exploration early on, we're equipping Raya with the skills and mindset he needs to thrive in an ever-changing world.”

Hart believes that the screen time discussion isn’t just about technology but a trend that goes deeper. “It speaks to a broader societal problem: our youth's lack of self-esteem, confidence and fundamental values. While screen time may exacerbate these issues, it is not the sole cause,” he told Upworthy.

“In contrast, physical activity, such as exercise, promotes joy and well-being. Spending hours scrolling on a phone can detract from genuine moments of happiness and fulfillment,” he continued. “Therefore, we must address the deeper underlying issues affecting our youth's mental and emotional health rather than solely attributing them to screen time.”

Hart believes the key to fostering healthy habits in children is to be wholly present and reject the “pressures of convenience” that encourage parental complacency.

“We prioritize quality time together, whether exploring nature, sharing meals with the best available foods, or engaging in meaningful conversations. In today's rapidly advancing technological world, staying grounded in our humanity and embodying integrity in everything we do is crucial,” he continued. “This means staying connected to our authentic selves and teaching our son the importance of honesty, kindness, and respect.”