06 March 2007

Panda Madness

Chengdu is home to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, which I actually visited twice (once with Robin & then again with Anne). When seeing Pandas anywhere in the world my initial feelings is always one of “Why Pandas? Why have we chosen to love and protect Pandas considering all the animals in the world that are near extinction?” My sense has always been that it’s because they’re cute and cuddly and likeable, a fact that is true of most things in this world. If you look nice, life is a little bit easier. We obsess over Hollywood stars because they’re attractive, so why not Pandas? That is, we as human beings have made the decision that Pandas are “worth saving,” for whatever reason. Needless to say, I entered the center with a little bit of resentment.

While my mind is still wrapped around this idea of being “worthy” of saving” I now understand why we humans like them so much. I mean, they’re really adorable. They have so many human traits that just make them so lovable. All they do is eat, sleep, roll around and poop. The adults sit around for three and four hours in the morning sprawled out on their backs peeling bamboo with their human-like paws. They don’t get up. The food is placed within arms reach, otherwise I think they might go hungry. Meanwhile, the tiny cubs play and wrestle while learning to climb trees. This is, of course, after they are bottle-fed by humans wearing what appears to bio-hazardous waste suits. Then they just fall asleep in a tree or something. No matter how hard I try, it’s hard to feel anything but love for the cute little guys. I’ve changed my stance – I support Pandas, I just support other animals too. Some photos of the big teddy bears. Your challenge? Find the Pandas!

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