The zookeepers had to be incredibly careful to pull this one off.
Due to incredible efforts over the past six decades, in 2016, the giant panda escaped the endangered species list and is know graded as “vulnerable.” The species, which was once on the brink of extinction, has grown to a population of over 2,000 thanks to efforts by the Chinese government.
BBC Earth captured a perfect example of the painstaking efforts the Chinese have undergone to protect its national animal. In the video above, narrated by David Attenborough, caretakers at a zoo attempt to help twin baby pandas survive by tricking its mother into thinking it only gave birth to one.
According to BBC Earth, nearly half of all giant panda births are twins, but both cubs rarely survive. It’s believed that the mothers abandon one of the cubs because they don’t have the energy or milk to raise both.
To ensure the survival of both cubs, caretakers at the zoo carefully remove a cub from the mother ten times a day and replace it with its sibling. The mother is distracted by sweet honey water so the zookeepers can pull the swictheroo without her noticing.
After each cub is removed from the mother, it’s placed into an incubator until it’s ready to go back to her. This cub-swap strategy has increased the survival rate of twin pandas to nearly 100%.