Panda Mom Swaps Saliva with Her Cub to Boost Baby's Immune System, Still Manages to Look Cute

The term “swapping spit” often doesn’t pair with sweet, precious images, but these pandas manage to be the exception.

While filming the upcoming special The Hidden Kingdoms of China, National Geographic camera operators managed to capture a rare moment between a panda mom and her cub, and PEOPLE has an exclusive sneak peek at the footage.

In the clip, a mother panda encourages her cub to lick her lips by opening her mouth near the baby bear’s face and salivating. The cub responds by licking up the drool in and around his mom’s mouth.

This relationship may seem too close to some, but, according to experts, the mother panda likely encourages her cub to drink her saliva as a way to boost the little bear’s immune system.

The fascinating moment above is just one of many captured in The Hidden Kingdoms of China, narrated by Crazy Rich Asians star Michelle Yeoh, which also follows snow leopards, snub-nosed monkeys, Tibetan foxes and more through the mountains and jungles that make up the country’s vast landscape.

Tune in to the premiere of The Hidden Kingdoms of China on The National Geographic Channel on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9-11 p.m. ET.

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