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Tipsheet

Twin Pandas Born at National Zoo

Let's face it. Today is awful.

Between the stock markets free falling, videos revealing ghastly practices at Planned Parenthood, threats of terrorism both home and abroad, it's sometimes hard to remember that, yes, there are positive things happening in the world.

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Like the birth of (surprise) twin giant pandas to mom Mei Xiang on Saturday at the Smithsonian National Zoo. This is a good thing, unless you're a heartless monster who hates tiny infant creatures. Let's all be happy about the arrival of two of DC's newest, smallest, and cutest residents.

Pandas are an incredibly endangered species, with fewer than 2,000 left in the wild. Pandas are also very tough to breed, as there's only a three-day fertility window for the entire year.

About a week ago, it was confirmed that Mei Xiang was pregnant. Maybe. Pandas apparently can fake pregnancy, so nobody was sure whether or not Mei Xiang would produce a cub this year. And even if she were actually pregnant, there's still no guarantee that the cub would be born alive or healthy. Zookeepers are cautiously optimistic about the lil guys' chances for survival this time around, which is something we should all be grateful for.

Right now, the new baby pandas are about the size of a stick of butter and are being rotated between being cared for by mommy panda and being kept in an incubator to be tended by humans. (Pandas, not unlike many new parents of all species, are not the greatest at multitasking. Unlike most parents, however, pandas tend to abandon one cub to die in the case of multiple births, which the zookeepers at the National Zoo are trying to avoid.) This is only the third set of panda twins to be born in the United States, and fingers are crossed that these two can be the second set to survive.

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In accordance with Chinese tradition, the cubs won't be named for 100 days. (Personally, I hope they're given matching names like Yin and Yang or Fa Mulan and Fa Ping if it's a boy and a girl.) While they won't be on display to the public for at least a few months, they should be visible on the Panda Cam sometime soon.

So there's your reason to smile today, in spite of all of the horrible things happening around the world.

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