Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

This Post is Utterly Useless

Warning: gratuitous panda shot.

This images comes to us courtesy of The article, titled "Among the Pandas," is available only to subscribers. Since I am not, I'm going to make up a story to accompany this photo. The Wolong Panda Reserve is seeking donations to care for its pandas. As this image shows, the keepers can only afford to feed 7 pandas at a time. Poor Typhoon (pictured in the back) now has to wait in line until dinner to get his meal. Meanwhile Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Prancer, Blitzen, Rudolph and.....uhhhh Ralph, chow down on some panda kibble while Typhoon pretends he's not hungry.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.

Of all the panda-loving kid stories I read daily, this one out of Redding Elementary has all the makings of THE Perfect Story:

* Fourth graders : Fifth graders are either jaded - having mastered the intricacies of cursive writing - or worried about more immediate concerns - such as the sudden onset of adolescence - to care much about animal advocacy. Third graders haven't had enough world history to feel empathy for any place other than their immediate community and/or most recent place they spent their summer vacation. Sixth graders? Forget about it! Their cells have already been surgically grafted onto their ears to prepare them for middle school.

* Kid initiated, Vice Principal approved : Nobody wants to hear about out-of-work-adults with inexplicable panda fetishes wax poetic about saving pandas (sniff!). Nor does anyone care about panda initiatives started by adults that cater to kids. These darling enviro-preneuses came up with The Panda Project all by themselves and petitioned the school's Kindness Klub to help them raise money for the WWF's endandered species program. (On a side note, "Kindness Klub" - how cute is that?!?)

* Enthusiasm : Any great advocate knows that you must exude enthusiasm for that which you are advocating. These girls are well on their way to becoming great conservationists. One of the project's founders, Danielle, stated that she has loved pandas since pre-school - that's over half her life, a HUGELY long time for an elementary student. THAT is dedication my friends! With dedication that strong, we can practically count the panda as saved!

Finally, check out the picture above and just try to convince me that's not a Great Wall of Panda in the making. These young activists are destined for great things. Yay for kids!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tai Shan Update

All this newborn cub talk makes me wonder how Tai Shan is doing. He's now two years and three or so months old. Weighing in at a husky 153 pounds, he seems to be getting along just fine. Some other Tai Shan news bits from the past year:

* The National Zoo is the only zoo in the US to allow mother bear and cub to undergo the natural weaning process. As a result, Tai Shan is the only panda cub bred in captivity to stay with his mother for more than 18 months. In the wild, panda cubs start leaving their mums around a year and a half, so cubs in US zoos are generally weaned at about that age. (In China, panda cubs are weaned at around six months). As Tai Shan grew closer to his second birthday, Mei Xiang began pushing her cub away, allowing Tai to grow into an independent and confident bear of his own right. Tai now lives apart from his mother and, even when in enclosures right next to each other, mother and son generally ignore one another's presence. His father, Tian Tian, has never had much to do with the cub's upbringing. He's not a deadbeat, that's just the way pandas do it.

* Tai Shan has learned a neat trick - he will stick his arm through the bars of his training cage and let the keepers draw blood from him without flinching. This makes it easier for the keepers to take blood samples without anesthesia. I'll bet a lot of pediatricians wish their patients were similarly trained! What a good bear.

* Tai Shan is a south paw. He holds bamboo stalks in his left paw as he chows down.

* Tai can eat upwards of 17 pounds of bamboo in a single night. He has the honor of holding the Zoo record for most piles of panda poop in a single night - 18.

* Tai Shan is clicker trained by zoo staff, much like dogs are.

In April, the National Zoo announced that Tai Shan would be extending his stay in the US for two more years. The original terms of the loan agreement between the Smithsonian and the China Wildlife Conservation Association were that any cub born to the leased adults would be sent back to China after the cub's second birthday. Thanks to the Zoo Director's efforts, DC residents get to keep him for two more years. Which is totally fair, because China has lots of pandas already. Here's to two more years!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Oops Our Bad

According to this study out of Cardiff University, pandas are not the evolutionary dead ends some once thought them to be. It was once believed by some that the panda's solitary nature, picky palate and slow reproductive rate were the only factors behind the decline of panda populations. It was once believed that giant pandas were going extinct as a result of their inadaptibility.

Thanks to the scientists at Cardiff U, those myths have been questioned and debunked. In addition to the panda's eccentric nature, a fourth and more immediately devastating cause of population decline was uncovered: Man. Under the Cardiff study, panda population decline can be directly attributed to man's intervention more so than any other factor. Deforestation and poaching are the major man-made contributors to panda population decline. The Cardiff scientists say that if efforts are made to restore the giant pandas' habitat and reforest the areas where they range, giant pandas stand a good chance of surviving and evolving on their own two paws.

Pictured right: panda sushi (looks like, not made of. I don't know what this image has to do with anything, but it seemed to fit.)

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's Pandamonium Down Under

This is some Australian guy's first hand account of his harrowing journey through inner-China, ending with a fight to the finish in an historic battle royale against ferocious forest dwelling beasts in which he barely escaped with his life.

"Those black eyes ... they will haunt my nightmares forever" he said of his perilous adventure and near death experience.

Pictured above: the aussie's attacker

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Green is the New Blog

Mei Sheng, a San Diego Zoo panda, celebrates his 4th birthday this week with fruitsicles and little fanfare. His only birthday wish was that the newborn baby panda, of yet undetermined sexual identification or orientation, would wander into the polar bear habitat and get eaten alive. Mei, what a jealous panda!

Pictured right: a panda who looks too old to be Mei Sheng but is cute regardless.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HEY HEY HEY it's faaaaaat pandas

Panda gives birth to chubby twins
On Monday, a seven-year-old giant panda at the Chengdu Research Facility in China became a first-time mom, birthing twin cubs. The cubs, a male and female, weigh approximately 200 grams and 176 grams, respectively, which is considered overweight for newborn panda cubs.

Maybe the pregnant panda mom ate too many orange chicken panda bowls from Panda Express? To conduct some independent and highly unscientific research, we went to the local mall's food court. At 880 calories and 29.5 grams of fat, (you have to add the individual components together to get the total caloric value - shady) Panda Express has managed to turn what could have been a moderately healthy lunch into a blind orgy of caloric excess all smothered with gooey orange deliciousness. Just guess what popular and notorious fast food item has the same amount of fat and fewer calories? A Big Mac. The numbers. They don't lie. What other havoc is being wreaked upon society's health in the mall food court? At the rate of 175 new Panda Expresses annually, it's not as though Panda Express is hurting. Wish I could say the same about the effect on america's waistlines and cholesterol levels.

The more I pay attention to where my food comes from and what could possibly be in it, the more I begin to understand veganism. It's not so much about hurting poor animals as it "What the &*$@ has corporation X put into my lunch today?" I'm no foodologist (? tm, just in case) but I am definitely paying more attention to what I put in my mouth and in my belly because Panda Express Inc. is not in the business of looking out for my health. Come on Panda E! It's a new day and your consumers are not the ignoramuses we once were in the days pre-internet. Plus we are seriously jonesin' for some orangey delicious goo. Just make it low-fat, low-sugar, low-sodium, transfat-preservative-and chemical-free, and throw in a little vitamin C for good measure. That's all.

On the flip side, you have Panda Candy. All natural licorice, with hardly any chemicals, preservatives, etc., this is a company that is riding the nutritional wave, experiencing 30% growth over the past year. Panda Candy is doing so well, they're redesigning their packaging to tout all the nutritional goodness that is inside. Now, if only they would redesign the taste of licorice.

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