Everything is terrible (or at least quite worrying), so please enjoy this video of a panda giving birth that's doing the rounds online at the moment. If you didn't know how pandas give birth, you're in for quite the surprise.
Baby pandas are born exceptionally small and underdeveloped, even compared to other bears. While other bears do have relatively small babies (newborn polar bears are born at a weight 1/400th of their mother's size, for most other mammals it's around 1:26), panda cubs are exceptionally teeny, pink, and floppy. They only weigh about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) at birth, making them one of the smallest mammal newborns in relation to their mothers.
A study from Duke last year on why panda cubs are so tiny found that the bones of newborn pandas are immature compared to other mammals, equivalent to "a 28-week human fetus”, according to the study's co-author, Peishu Li. “They’re basically undercooked."
Panda pregnancies are short, at around five months on average, though they can vary from 83 days to 324 days. Their births are even shorter. As Li described it in a piece of imagery you're not likely going to forget any time soon, “it just seemed like a jelly bean popping out of a vending machine".
The video is actually from 2017, courtesy of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, in southwest China's Sichuan Province, and shows one of two giant panda twins being born.
It turns out that it's actually one of the more dignified videos available of giant panda babies being born.
It's not clear yet why pandas are born so small. “We really need more information about their ecology and reproduction in the wild," Professor Kathleen Smith, who co-authored the Duke study said. Observing pandas in the wild though is rare and pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity.
Once the cubs are born, it's not plain sailing from there on out either. They only begin to open their eyes around 40 days after birth, their eyes become wide open at around 50 days, and they begin to have actual sight at around 70-90 days. To be honest, though, it's probably a good thing that they can't see the absolute horror show of their twin being born.
It's not just panda births that are wild though. Sloths manage it while hanging upside down in a tree.