Giant pandas might literally be the cutest animals on earth, which is why it’s so devastating that the world’s panda population has been declining rapidly for decades, driving the species to the verge of extinction. However, things are looking up for panda fans everywhere thanks to a female panda at the Los Angeles Zoo named Yu Yun. Last month, Yu Yun began giving birth over and over again to adorable baby pandas—and she hasn’t stopped since!
“Before this, there were only a few thousand pandas left on the entire planet, but ever since Yu Yun started giving continuous, unceasing birth to thousands of baby pandas, that number has been increasing rapidly,” says Yu Yun’s caretaker, Dr. Gavin Michaels, who notes that while he and his team attempted to count how many cubs Yu Yun has given birth to so far, they lost track at approximately 3,000. “Sometimes she’ll give birth to one panda, and then 30 seconds later, give birth to another. Sometimes she’ll blast out 10 cubs into the air in a single-file line all at the same time. It never stops. This is an exciting step forward for this once-endangered species.”
In the past, scientists attempting to revitalize the world’s panda population had found it next to impossible to get pandas to mate in captivity. However, with Yu Yun this wasn’t an issue, because even though she lived alone in a private enclosure with absolutely no males, she just started giving birth spontaneously!
Adorable! The first of hundreds of panda litters born at the Los Angeles Zoo:
While she is understandably exhausted, Yu Yun nevertheless continues to bring cub after adorable cub into the world with breathtaking speed. The scientists observing the panda report that she gives birth at an average rate of one cub every 15 seconds. According to official reports, at one point this inspiring panda gave birth to a panda skeleton that grew skin and fur on the spot. Additionally, on at least one occasion she has given birth to a baby panda, which then immediately gave birth to an even smaller panda like a Russian nesting doll. Biologists have called these events “very encouraging signs” for the future of pandas.
As Yu Yun’s caretaker, Dr. Michaels has observed her closely since her uninterrupted chain of childbirth began, and while he knows it benefits the entire world, he claims that there was one spectacular moment that was particularly meaningful for him:
“My father died 15 years ago,” he says. “And ever since then, I’ve missed him very much. Then one day last week, the panda gave birth to a full-grown human man. It was my dead father. He put his hand on the glass of the enclosure, looked me in the eyes, and said, ‘I love you son.’ Then five baby pandas burst out of his stomach and his empty skin fell to the ground like a deflated balloon.”
“It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced,” Michaels says. “Truly an incredible gift from Yu Yun.”
Yu Yun continues to give birth over and over again, filling the world with adorable baby pandas. Anyone interested in viewing this incredible spectacle is welcome to visit the Los Angeles Zoo to watch it unfold. Zoo officials say there is no rush to stop by, since Yu Yun is showing no signs of slowing down.