Important cute news! Scientists are having more luck breeding pandas in captivity and keeping the resulting baby pandas alive — and that, in turn, is making pandas easier to study. It's a win-win cycle of adorableness as science makes it easier to make pandas and the increase in pandas makes it easier to learn more which makes it easier to make more pandas.
In all, 2013 saw the birth of 49 panda cubs around the world, and 42 of them have survived. That's a record and an indication that captive breeding programs are working. There are now a total of 376 pandas living in captivity, most of them in China.
The steady gains in the panda population have brought not only more adorable photos, but also better science for researchers to draw on.
Image: San Diego Zoo's Zhen Zhen, photographed in 2008 by Flickr user fortherock.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.