Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pandology 101

So you think you know everything about tai, mai & tian, do ya? Take this animal planet quiz to find out if you're a true Pandologist!

70 points - Hooray, you're a bona fide Pandodyssey(tm) Pandologist!
60 points - cub pandologist, you're almost qualified
50 points - NOT a pandologist but thanks for playing anyway
40 points - get back to work you poser
30 points - go back to school you loser
20 points - go back to elementary school!
10 points - uhhh, plays well with others?
0 points - you obviously don't care about me, my blog, or pandas. Why are you even here?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

duck season! election season!

OK, it's actually called "DemocracyLand" and originates from "," a group dedicated to presenting a third-party candidate in the next presidential election. Read on:

Unity08 divides issues facing the country into two categories: Crucial Issues – on which America’s future safety and welfare depend; and Important Issues – which, while vital to some, will not, in our judgment, determine the fate or future of the United States.

In our opinion, Crucial Issues include: Global terrorism, our national debt, our dependence on foreign oil, the emergence of India and China as strategic competitors and/or allies, nuclear proliferation, global climate change, the corruption of Washington’s lobbying system, the education of our young, the health care of all, and the disappearance of the American Dream for so many of our people.

By contrast, we consider gun control, abortion and gay marriage important issues, worthy of debate and discussion in a free society, but not issues that should dominate or even crowd our national agenda.

In our opinion – since the disintegration of the Soviet Union – our political system seems to have focused more attention on the “important issues” than the “crucial issues.” One result: The political parties have been built to address the interests of their “base” but have failed to address the realities that impact most Americans.

Any group that offers a respite from 'politics as usual', gets my endorsement, but then again I might be Libertarian. Go third party go!

Plus, I can't play this game at the moment, so I needed to save it somewhere to remind myself to check it out later. Don't get your hopes up though-I'm sure it's no panda bounce ...

ETA it's no panda bounce.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Got plans!

Sustainability: it's not just about farming anymore.

Talk about your BOLD urban planning projects. This page from WWF highlights a proposal for the world's first sustainable living project, slated for Mata de Sesimbra, Portugal. If approved, this project will result in an entire community--from conception to executed-- being planned under the first "sustainable building, tourism, nature conservation and reforestation programme" of its kind.

How cool would this be if it works? To build communities with ALL relevant interests in mind-including preserving the enviroment and conserving local species with an eye toward the future, not just making a quick buck. Incredible.

won't you be my neighbor?
Meet Monique and Doug. They live in the dc suburbs and have 3 kids. They aren't tree hugging-enviro-commandos, but this Arlington couple recently fitted their suburban home with solar panels and solar powered hot water heaters at a cost upwards of $20,000. Why?? Obviously, they hope to recoup some of the expenditures through the solar power they will be generating and consuming, and through "net metering," a program whereby unused energy produced by them gets sold to the utility company at retail prices. But beyond just the economic factors, Monique and Doug felt that this was what they as a family could do to contribute to the global energy conservation effort. Yay, for alternative energy and outside the box people like Monique and Doug!

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, you could get up to $2000 in federal tax credit for a residential solar power system. Considering the cost of a residential solar power system, I think the tax credit incentive is too low to truly incentivize the consumer. Let's press our legislators to make alternative energy incentives better!

write your congressman!
write your senator!
write the President!

Interestingly, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as passed also includes "tranistional cost" subsidies to oil and nuclear power companies, a lot of which happen to be in ... TEXAS.

coming soon...Sloth-odyssey(tm)!

Guess what's black and white and debuted at the zoo yesterday! A baby sloth! AWWWW!

Pic of a sloth bear cub. Did you know that sloth bears are the only bears that carry their young on their backs.

The little guy remains unnamed even though he was born January 9!!!!! I shall call him ... Tai Sloth.

In other a-min-al news:

A meal fit for a king (a King Charles spaniel, that is): A survey of dog owners in Great Britain found that 18 percent feed their dogs a better diet than their own. More than 25 percent said they would eat the food they buy for their dogs.

I HATE THESE DOGS and not just because they live better lives than I do! (though, I do recall being over at a friends house for dinner one night: the dog was prepared a homemade meal from scratch of boiled chicken, brown rice and vegetables. The humans ate crappy delivery pizza. And I know this to be the rule, not the exception, at that crazy house.

All the KCCSs I have know were adorable, but dumb as dirt and prone to in-bred premature heart/respiratory problems. If you want a dog, get a mutt!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


shoot couldn't find any, except that tai shan has gained weight (haven't we all little dude, haven't we all?) and that he turned ten months old on May 9. awwwww!

But here at pandodyssey, we consider ourselves a repository of ALL KINDS of useful resources. So if you're ever in need of a quick insult, click here!

This post updated to add a few well-known snappy comebacks for a little inspiration and guidance for those of us who tend to think of The Perfect Comeback three days too late.

"[W]hen you say something witty at a party, you should always appear bored, take a sip of your drink, and look away. That way, it'll seem like it happens all the time."
Jack, Will & Grace

In politics, the successful put-down supersedes any issues of substance, just as on the playground. There are certain yo-momas from which no one can recover. Ronald Reagan was good at these.
"There you go again," he said in a 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, accusing the president of misrepresenting his record. The line was accompanied by a smile and a patronizing shake of the head, and the audience laughed, sealing the deal. Reagan: 1, Carter: 0. (Note: smile and patronizing shake of hand are essential to this type of smack down. These are difficult to transcribe in newspapers the following morning which is why it's good for political smack.)

History's Best Putter-Downers:
Pericles: "When I was your age, Alcibiades, I talked just the way you are now talking"
Alcibiades: "If only I had known you, Pericles, when you were at your best."

"If I were your wife, I would poison your coffee."
To which Winston Churchill replied, "If I were your husband, I would drink it."

And the winnner is ... (and no, we weren't competing):
For instance, after her breakup with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman appeared on David Letterman's show and was asked how she was doing.

"Well, I can wear heels now," she replied.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Darwin & the Old Testament

I received both of these via email overnight. Is it a cosmic struggle for my Inbox's soul?

what must morning chimp breath be like?

Study: Chimps and Early Humans Interbred

May 17, 2006 — Our early ancestors interbred with chimpanzees after the two species diverged millions of years ago, new research suggests.

The provocative idea is sketched by U.S. genome experts, who have discovered that hominids and chimps diverged far more recently -- and over a much longer timescale -- than previously thought.

During that period, the authors theorize, the two primate species were rather more than kissing cousins: They had sex, swapping genes before making a final split

The staff at WP's Style section had a field day with this story. (darn wish I'd though of it first!)

But Baby, I Went Out on a Limb for You

SIM CITY -- Scientists announced this week that humans and chimpanzees -- which shared a common ancestor before parting ways 6.3 million years ago -- were still interbreeding about 5 million years ago, creating hybrid offspring. This whole idea of chimp-human hookups got us thinking about what interspecies couples fight over.

"Everything's just 'hoo hoo ha ha' to him."

· "She always plays the Darwin card when we fight."

· "So I'm, like, 'C'mon, baby, light my fire' and she goes, 'Light your what?' "

· "Whenever I pack my suitcase, he just throws it against the wall."

· "She keeps begging me to get hair plugs. For my back."

· "She's such a nitpicker."

· "All you guys ever want to do is get drunk, sit around those typewriters and try to write 'Hamlet.' "

· "Thinks he's hot stuff because he invented 'the wheel,' whatever that is."

don't judge. don't be a species-ist.

"... in a world where trailer parodies are funnier than actual movies..."

10 things i hate about commandments
because even the old testament is better with samuel l jackson!

c/o julia who I think should be studying right now. (why aren't you studying right now??)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

reuniting panda populations

Reuniting panda populations in China

Xi’an, China – WWF's China Programme and the Chinese Forestry Department of Shaanxi Province have launched a programme to build up an ecological corridor to reunite two isolated panda populations. A bamboo forest will be restored with the help of WWF volunteers to create a green corridor for giant panda sub-populations that were fragmented by a national highway.

The two Tianhuashan and Xinglongling panda sub-populations in the Qinling Mountains were separated 23 years ago by the construction of National Road 108. Then, in 1999, the completion of a tunnel led to the abandonment of a 13km section of the highway, and this has created the possibility of reconnecting the fragmented habitats of the giant pandas in Mount Tianhuashan, where there are approximately 20, and Mount Xinglongling, where there are about 110.

What a creative solution to accomodate both industrialization and panda habitat conservation. This is a prime example of local and national governments and domestic and international efforts cooperating on a united effort to restore the fragmented panda habitat. Kudos!

For the latest in conservation news from WWF, click here.

For information on how to help out in WWF campaigns, click here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Panda Couture/Dads as Moms

Child Abuse or Dad of the Year?

Ever wonder what baby pandas glued to a baseball cap might look like? This is so hilarious. I never knew I needed one till now. And now I can't stop thinking about it...

Mister Moms

If its good for the female bat-eared fox, it's good for the male bat-eared fox. A recent study published in Animal Behavior magazine discusses this fox species' reversal of roles.

While mothers were out foraging, fathers mostly stayed in the dens with cubs. There, the fox fathers huddled with their young to keep them warm. They also spent time grooming cubs to help remove parasites.

The fox dads would also make short trips to obtain snacks, such large insects or small birds and rodents, for the cubs. They carried cubs from one den location to another. Fathers even fearlessly defended their young.

How progressive!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mum mum mum mum mum mum

This is an odd article from the NY Times Science section about the most unmomly moms found in the the animal kingdom. The illustrations are weird and cool! And on that note, uh, Happy Mother's day, I guess?? (I sent my cards already so :P)

One Thing They Aren't: Maternal

When Douglas W. Mock of the University of Oklahoma began studying egrets in Texas three decades ago, he knew that the bigger babies in a clutch would peck the smaller ones to death. Still, Dr. Mock was caught off guard by what he saw — or failed to see. He had assumed that the murderous attacks would surely take place while Mom and Dad egret were out fishing.
"I figured that, if the parents were around, they'd try to block these things," he said. "I have three older brothers, and I never would have made it if my parents hadn't interceded."

Instead, Dr. Mock witnessed utter parental indifference. The mother or father would stand by the side of the nest, doing nothing as one chick battered its sibling bloody. "The parent would yawn or groom itself and look completely blasé," said Dr. Mock, author of "More Than Kin and Less Than Kind: The Evolution of Family Conflict." "In the 3,000 attacks that I witnessed, I never saw a parent try to stop one. It's as though they expect it to happen."

Yeah, panda moms are mentioned here too. It's just nature CP2, don't cry...)

Domestic Panda News

Caucus Covers Panda Points

In domestic panda news, officials of American panda-wielding and panda-wanting zoos met in Memphis this week to discuss the business of pandas. Members of the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation are preparing to send a team to China's Wolong Nature Reserve to see how conservationists there are spending the $1 million/year that US zoos pay to lease the pandas. US zoos are hoping to negotiate lower rates with China to lease future pandas.

Towne, retired director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and past president of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, was part of a U.S. delegation that recently opened talks on lowerng the loan fees. At China's Wolong nature reserve, he saw a bumper crop of 16 baby pandas being tended in facilities improved by money and expertise from American zoos.

"I am impressed with the progress that's been made," Towne said. Before the loans began, "China really had no money for wildlife conservation. The money that came out of U.S. zoos has made a major difference."

We need a "bumper crop of baby pandas" in DC! And on that note:


Some prefer panda as symbol of D.C.

WASHINGTON — The very idea is enough to make a panda lover's heart skip a beat. Washington, D.C., is searching for a suitable animal to become its official symbol, and it appears the giant panda is rapidly making its cuddly way toward the top of the list.

"The panda ought to be a strong possibility for the city's representative animal," said Linda Cropp, chairwoman of the City Council of the District of Columbia. "The official animal chosen really should be what captures the imagination of the children and makes them feel good, and the panda does that."

The fact that the bamboo-loving, tree-dwelling creature is not native to the U.S. has not gone unnoticed. But growing numbers of supporters point to the three pandas at the city's National Zoo, and all three are wildly popular with Washingtonians. While the adult pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, were both born in China, they have been living at the zoo for more than six years. Their 10-month-old cub, Tai Shan, was born at the zoo, technically making him an American citizen.

And a son of immigrants I might add--it's the Great American melting pot! A win-win for all.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pandas in HD!

Caught a 'NAWESOME' special last night on Discovery HD (Cox Channel 710 in Alexandria) called Panda Nursery! It was the story of twin cubs born at Wolong and documents how human caregivers raise panda cubs.

When twin cubs are born in the wild, the mother panda almost always chooses one cub over the other. It may seem cruel, but it's a choice the mother panda makes out of necessity. A newborn baby panda cub is completely helpless and depends on its mother's round-the-clock care to have any chance at survival. A mother panda instinctively knows that to increase her odds of successfully raising a cub, she must devote herself to only one cub.

However, new research by Chinese and international scientists gave the conservationists of Wolong Research Center an innovative idea--to work around the mother's natural instincts by "tricking" her into raising both her cubs. This is accomplished by swapping out the twin cubs, allowing each twin to have quality time with the mother alone, while the other is nurtured and cared for in the "panda" nursery by its human caregivers.

Were they successful? Find out when Panda Nursery airs again on May 10. Only on Discovery HD!

OR catch it my house, where it will be playing every evening for the next dozen nights or so...yay for DVR!

"Panda Nursery" is certainly no "Tai Shan: A Pandodyssey", though there is some incredibly cute panda cub footage, a lot of information on conservation and panda reproduction, and the best part: at 24 minutes in, there is a hilarious sound bite of the theme to "2001: A Space Odyssey" in Chinese pan flute music.

Wanted: Better PR Rep for Tai Shan
Why does Su Lin get all the glory at Wikipedia? What is this, some new conspiracy?!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You call this a panda blog??

(Much) belated updates from 20008. Tai Shan has been a busy baby panda!

May 2: Bamboo Shoots for Pandas on the Go

Tai Shan had his latest night out yet on Sunday. He went up his sycamore tree at 4:40 p.m. and didn't come down until 10 p.m. Earlier that day, after pestering Mei Xiang to play, he was sent flying off the top of the grotto with one swat from his mother. He landed with a bounce, then proceeded to climb back up to the top. This time he minded his own business.

As the breeding season continues, Tian Tian is very restless on alternate days. After spending one day power walking, he appears to need the next day off to regain his energy. Tian has discovered a high-energy snack sprouting along the fence line: tender bamboo shoots. In the wild, male pandas must really wear themselves out from sparring with other males and, if they are lucky, mating with just one female. Female pandas must avoid the males' advances by retreating into the trees until they are ready to mate. Those ever-present springtime shoots are an abundant source of protein and energy for active pandas on the go.

April 28: Tian Gets a Physical
Tai Shan has been spending more and more of his time asleep in the willow tree. This is the same tree that Mei Xiang likes to play in. We are trying to encourage him to use the water-chilled grotto at the front of the exhibit. As the weather gets hot, Tai Shan may seek out this cool spot with the help of a small piece of icy fruitcicle.

Tian Tian had an annual physical on Wednesday. The primary reason for the procedure was to collect semen to freeze and bank, for potential artificial insemination procedures both here and at other facilities. The samples were disappointing. Perhaps the quality was influenced by the fact that Mei Xiang has not experienced an estrus this year, or perhaps it was due to normal daily variation, and it was just not a good day for sperm. In addition, Tian Tian had a thorough physical that included teeth cleaning, complete radiography and ultrasound of his abdomen and chest, as well as the usual blood draws and measurements. Tian also received his vaccinations for rabies and distemper. The entire procedure went very smoothly. Tian was very sleepy the rest of the day and was given half rations that evening.

April 24: Tai's Tool Use?
Tai Shan weighed in over the weekend at 47 pounds. We have seen him eating grass he pulled up in the yard. Tai sat against the fence and consumed it while resting his back. Pandas have perfected the art of eating and slouching.

Tai Shan has been able to climb over several tree guards in the past few days. At last he has been able to satisfy his desire to explore more trees in his quest for the perfect sleeping space. It was very exciting to see him use a plastic milk crate to climb up into a tree. Could we be documenting the first case of tool use in a giant panda, as well as more evidence of Tai Shan's innate brilliance?! Well, as it turns out, Tai was playing with the crate when it rolled away and down the hill, to rest by chance beside the trunk. No tool use, but lots of fun time.
Tai also recently figured out how to climb down inside a large tree guard and hide out for a while. We would still want to discourage Tai from spending time in the trees with the guards still on them. Dressed with metal sleeves, perhaps they will remain less attractive for a while longer. We want to minimize the damage, as we cannot afford to replace these large trees. Tai has recently spent a few late nights in his well-used sycamore, as well as his old river birch tree, so thankfully they are still his preference, at least for now.

And for our viewing pleasure and distraction (well, except mine...grrrrr!) CP2 has discovered a link to this baby bald eagle cam. After all, it's practically your patriotic duty to watch.

Monday, May 01, 2006

country road, take me home

A First! Giant Panda Is Released Into the Wild!

First panda born in captivity freed

Xiang Xiang was released into the wild on April 28, the first ever captive-born giant panda to be released into the wild. The four-year-old male has undergone an extensive three-year survival training program, one that is aimed at helping captive-born and human raised pandas hone their natural instincts and survive on their own in the wild.

Though gone, Xiang Xiang (whose name means 'auspicious') won't soon be forgotten. His progress and survival are of keen interest to scientists, conservationists (and pandologists!) everywhere, as evidence of successful conservation and restoration efforts. Xiang Xiang's every step will be scrutinzed and analyzed by researchers at The Panda Center at Wolong Nature Reserve, his former home. He sports a collar with a satellite tracking device so that his movements can be monitored 24/7. Hey guys, how about a cam??

"Xiang Xiang was selected from more than 100 giant pandas bred in captivity for natural habitat training, mostly because he was strong and healthy, said experts.

"He learned how to build a den, forage for food and mark his territory, and developed defensive skills by howling and biting, said Zhang Hemin, head of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center.

"Xiang Xiang is like my child who has grown up and left the family to live independently," said Liu Bin, who helped look after him for three years. "I hope he can survive on his own without forgetting me," said Liu who turned away with tears in his eyes.

Inspiring guy, this Liu Bin of the Wolong Reserve. I've blogged about him before...

Which reminds me that I've been finding inspiration in the oddest of places. (Namely China at this point, bwahahaha). Last night I caught on PBS a show about China's cuisines and the daunting struggle to feed 1 billion+ mouths. For a population that size, food has come to represent many different ideas in Chinese culture, most notably here as a symbol of wealth. This show told the stories of the oresent day Chinese peasants. For centuries they lived off the land, farming and fishing, living the simplest of lives, neither getting rich nor starving.

Over the past decades, rapid industrialization in China's large cities has been a much needed and necessary boon to the country's economy, but has also resulted in China's reaching ever deeper for scarcer ans scarcer resources. On the local level throughout China, environmental concerns are pushed aside in favor of 'progress".

As a result, the poorest peasants who were already living on the margins of survival, are paying the ultimate price for industrialization and globalization. They are unable to sustain themselves as they once had, and slowly are giving up the country life to seek out factory jobs in large cities. River waters downstream from many factories are polluted and toxic. Thus, they are unable to fish waters that once provided them with both food and income. They are unable to irrigate crops with polluted water, and so wholly depend on rain fall for their yield. Village by village, one by one, they migrate to the cities, not by choice, only to survive. Once the stewards of the land, the peasant population is now dwindling due to starvation and migration. Of those who choose to stay, attempting to scratch out a living off the land is hardship enough. But having no clout or voice in dealing with the local governments or corporations makes survival nearly impossible.

The PBS show followed two Chinese attorneys who are trying to help both the peasants and the environment. It was simultaneously depressing and awe-inspiring, watching these two attorneys, dogged in their efforts for little reward because they believe so strongly in their mission, prosecuting environmental cases against multi-national corporations and, at times, against the mighty Chinese government.

In the way of "research" (give me a break, I am at work) the CIA World Factbook reports China's current environmental concerns as including: air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification.

Desertification, now there's a lovely word! : /