Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creature Feature: Giant Panda.

For the record, the original Sifl and Olly song involved sock puppets. Pick your poison.

Yes, on the night before Halloween, this blog will cover the horror that is...THE PANDA (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)!

The more I think about it, the more awesome a panda rock band sounds. 

Seriously, though? Pandas are overrated.

For starters, the dubious camouflage. I know that most animals see in black and white, but still.

A brief recap for those of you who know absolutely nothing about pandas: The Giant Panda is native to the bamboo forests of China. It eats almost nothing but bamboo and fruit despite being a carnivore. Contrary to older evidence, pandas are indeed bears; they are most closely related to the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) of South America.

To be fair, pandas are somewhat weird in their own right. They have 'thumbs;'  a mutated seismoid bone helps the panda eat bamboo. It also has a tail 4-6 inches (approximately 10-15 centimeters) long, making it the second longest tail of all bear species. Hell, even an herbivorous bear is weird; most bears are omnivores with a slight preference for flesh. They are also rare as all get-out with around 3,000 individuals in the wild, if that.

But really? People only want to save the panda because it looks adorable. It is not commonly used in Chinese medicine or ancient Chinese art. As soon as China learned that the West wanted to capitalize on the giant stuffed toy called the panda bear, they started loaning the bears to zoos. Whenever they appear in captivity, they are a huge attraction; the panda cage at Ueno Zoo had a HUGE crowd around it when I was in Japan.  

Yet, despite mankind's best efforts, the panda is one of those creatures that nature wants to kill off. Pandas are working with a carnivore's teeth and, for the most part, digestive tract. They are lethargic and have a very low metabolic rate thanks to their preferred diet. Pandas generally avoid other pandas and refrain from physical activity as much as possible since they derive so little energy from bamboo. They will eat meat, eggs and fish if offered. Who can blame them?

Pandas are so lazy that they are not even particularly interested in making love. Their mating period is very short, even in the wild, and a number of crazy methods have been used to get them to mate in captivity. These include making them watch panda porn and giving the males Viagra. Yes, really.

When a mommy and daddy panda love each other very, very, really, junior. Being a whore will kill you.

Wow. Pandas sound like worthless man-children that have never gotten laid and do nothing but play video games all day while eating sugary snacks. Yeah, save that species. [/sarcasm] put it best: "The panda is nature's loser."

 Yes, pandas are rare. Yes, they eat bamboo. Yes, deforestation is horrible, but the panda's situation was pretty bleak as it was. The panda is really the sort of creature that would die out eventually regardless of what we did. Is it really worth preserving?

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