Baby Panda is Nothing to Sneeze At – When Viral Videos Actually Make You Think

Viral videos aren’t thought-provoking works of art. You play them, you chuckle, you pass them on. You also immediately forget about them, until someone forces you to watch 47 seconds of laughing babies and you suddenly remember a video that’s so much better.

But sometimes, you stumble upon something that makes you think, play it again and think some more. Case in point: Sneezing Baby Panda. This little gem recently surpassed 100 million hits on the internet, which is more than Rebecca Black. Nyah, nyah.

At first glance, this video falls into the “animals acting like humans” category—a personal favourite of many. After the snuggly little panda lets out his tremendous sneeze, the mother freaks, then nonchalantly goes back to eating her bamboo bread. If they were people in an office, the exact same thing would happen. Just replace bamboo bread with weak coffee.

After you watch it a few times (because you can’t help it), your brain might start to think beyond the sneeze.

I realized how little I know about pandas. Is that what a typical panda sneeze sounds like? Who are these pandas and why are they in such a sad-looking cage? Is it funny or depressing to laugh at animals in captivity?

As a kid, I had binders full of World Wildlife Fund animal handouts that I read voraciously. I could have told you everything you needed to know about Giant Pandas, and then some. When did I stop caring?

For once, I spent more time looking up the background info than watching the video. I learned the pandas live in the Wolong Panda Breeding Centre in China’s Sichuan province, which together with the government specializes in giant panda breeding and bamboo ecology. The creepy cage in the video is actually part of a much larger enclosure. There are only 1000 giant pandas left in the wild.

All this, from a sneeze. When’s the last time a viral video made you think? And no, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is not a valid answer.