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These pictures of pandas will improve your day

A big promise. Delivered.

PANDAS ARE GREAT.

They’re one of the world’s favourite animals as well as a cultural icon, an economic mainstay and a source of national pride in China – the only country in which these Asian bears still survive.

National Geographic magazine’s latest issue features a photo essay captured by photographer Ami Vitale on the bears.

The images show the incredible progression of pandas bred in captivity: from infancy to release into the wild.

This slideshow will make you feel good:

These pictures of pandas will improve your day
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  • Pandas

    Ye Ye, a 16-year-old giant panda, lounges in a wild enclosure at a conservation center in Wolong Nature Reserve.Source: Ami Vitale
  • Pandas

    Panda keepers Ma Li and Liu Xiaoqiang listen for radio signals from a collared panda training to be released to the wild.Source: Ami Vitale
  • Pandas

    Zhang Hemin—“Papa Panda” to his staff—poses with cubs born in 2015 at Bifengxia Panda Base. Source: Ami Vitale
  • Panda

    Bears mate under keepers’ watch— a far cry from the privacy they have in the wild.Source: Ami Vitale
  • Panda

    Blind, nearly hairless, squeaky, and 1/900 the size of its mother, a newborn panda is as needy as it gets. But it won’t be for long: The panda is among the fastest growing mammals, increasing from around four ounces to four pounds in its first month. Source: Ami Vitale
  • Panda

    Three-month-old cubs nap in the panda nursery at Bifengxia. A panda mother that bears twins usually fails to give them equal attention. Keepers reduce the load by regularly swapping cubs in and out—making sure each gets both human and panda-mom care.Source: Ami Vitale
  • Panda

    Triple the cuteness—and the work. One mom cares for all these cubs, only one of which she bore.Source: Ami Vitale

You’re welcome.

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