On this day: December 18

POSTED: 10:51 PM PST Dec 17, 2012    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PST Dec 17, 2015 

America celebrates its first official day of thanksgiving, "The Nutcracker" debuts, the first "Pink Panther" short premieres, and the first nuclear power plant in America goes online, all on this day.

OTD December 18 - Su-Lin
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Public domain

1936: The first giant panda to reach the U.S. alive is brought back from an expedition in Tibet by Ruth Harkness, a young Manhattan socialite. A welcome diversion from the news of the Depression era, the lady and panda baby, named Su-Lin, were a media sensation. Su-Lin would eventually be acquired by Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, although he would die in April 1938. The body of Su-Lin is now on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


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