They say a picture says a thousand words, but if it is one of the top 100 photos of the year, how many words does it say then? The birth last July 7 of twin female pandas at Everland Zoo won many hearts. One of the photos taken on that day was recently chosen by TIME magazine as one of the top 100 photos of 2023. Everland, part of Samsung C&T’s Resort Group, is understandably proud.
TIME’s top 100 photos
For over a hundred years, TIME has been telling the story of the world through words and impactful pictures. Each year it chooses the top 100 photos that highlight some of the key visual moments of the foregoing 12 months. The 100 photos selected this year convey the complexity of human existence and capture every possible emotion. Some of those are heartwarming moments, like the photo of panda mother Ai Bao and her two newborn panda cubs, who in October were given the names Lui Bao (睿寶) and Hui Bao (輝寶).
A mother and her babies
In the photo taken in the early morning of July 7, Ai Bao, the nine-year-old mother who had given birth only minutes before, can be seen leaning forward on the tiled floor of her nursery. Below her head, two tiny, pink panda cubs are mewing as they look for their mom. Ai Bao is gently touching her muzzle to the back of one of the newborns, while the other is a little way behind, between her mother’s paws. The eyes of Ai Bao show pure maternal love as she cares for the infant panda twins.
Something that makes the photo particularly striking is the immense size difference between mother and babies. An adult female panda like Ai Bao can weigh as much as 100 kilograms, while her babies tipped the scales at just 180 and 140 grams. Another thing that immediately catches the viewer’s eye is the almost complete lack of fur or hair. Instead, the pink pandas are only covered in bristles.
This birth was Ai Bao’s second litter. Her first, in 2020, was baby Fu Bao, who is already three years old and is well on her way to panda adulthood. Twin pandas are quite rare and in the wild often only one will survive to adulthood. This is another reason why the photo of Ai Bao with two daughter cubs was such welcome news at Everland Zoo and around the world.
The photo of Ai Bao, Lui Bao, and Hui Bao was the only image from Korea that was selected among TIME’s top 100 pictures for the year. Explaining the pic’s popularity, an Everland official said, “Along with celebrating the mystery of life, it seems to have delivered hope and good feelings to people around the world.”
The twin panda cubs are expected to be introduced to the public early next year, when they are big and strong enough to follow their mother around safely. Panda lovers can keep up with the pandas’ progress on Everland’s YouTube channel.