Today, more than 300 giant pandas live in zoos or breeding centers across the globe. But once upon a time, the animals only lived in remote, mountainous areas in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. So how, exactly, did the rest of the world discover and fall in love with the fuzzy black-and-white bears?

We can thank Ruth Harkness, a wealthy socialite and clothing designer, who, in 1936, became the first person to bring a live giant panda from China to the U.S. In the video above, "The Brain Scoop" host Emily Graslie gives us the whole story, explaining what motivated Harkness to go on her panda quest, the obstacles she encountered along the way, and why the hard-partying flapper can be considered an early conservationist and advocate of the rare species.

[h/t The Brain Scoop]

Banner image courtesy of YouTube.

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