|(Dao Mao @ Toronto Zoo)|
If you haven't already heard, two pandas arrived earlier this year @ the Metro Toronto Zoo. My family has an annual membership and my daughter *LOVES* the zoo so we are they many times a year. It took us a few weekends, but we finally were able to find a time to go and see both Dao Mao and Er Shun.
(I guess "technically" I didn't need to rush, since they will be here for 5 years, before moving to Calgary for another 5 years. Normally these loans cost about $1 million, but according to CBC, Canada didn't pay for the pandas, likely because we were successful in the past to help breed them captivity. The Zoo, which is owned and run by the City did however, spend $8 million on a new exhibit.)
But damn it, pandas are cute. They are iconic. When they arrived, they got better 'red-carpet' welcome than most diplomats. See here.
What is not obvious is the sudden back-lash against pandas. (I mean honestly who hates pandas, right? That's like saying you want to punch the late Mother Theresa...). Turns out conservationist Chris Peckham would rather let pandas die off (in a more shocking, less Politically Correct way) and spend the resources elsewhere:
"I would eat the last panda if I could have all the money we have spent on panda conservation put back on the table for me to do more sensible things with..."
(http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/beyond-cute-and-cuddly/story-e6frg8gf-1111114841214)He's actually President of Britain's Bat Conservation Trust and part of me wonders if
- The 'eating' is a not too veiled joke about how Chinese people eat just about anything *and* that we as a race are probably responsible for more than our share of eating some species into oblivion.
- Or maybe he's somewhat jealous that "bats" simply *do not* elicit the same 'awwww' factor that Pandas do. Besides Gotham superheros, not too sure of how many people use Bats as their symbol?
Here are some more links about the 'Panda Excess':
There are only about 1600 pandas in the wild according to WWF. (They should know, it's their mascott/logo, right?) About 325 pandas in captivity and I got to see 2 of them. (Actually it might be 4, I think I might have saw Quinn Quinn and Sha Yan in 1985 when I was a lot younger, but I honestly don't remember much.)
I honestly do count myself "lucky", as they are sight to see in real-life. They playful, cute and when not sleeping (which is up to 10 hours a day I'm told) they are "highly" entertaining... often enticing a lot of 'awww's from the crowd.
Internally or Externally motivated as a person of Chinese decent, I *do* feel a kinship to pandas. They are such a symbol for China and their 'cute mug' is often used for many cute cartoon and anime characters. Much like polar bears are a symbol for Canada, pandas are symbol of National Pride for China.
To me, it was 'great' seeing them up so close. They made my daughter so Happy! I'm sure she'll be talking about it for years to come. So, 'NO', I don't think they are a waste of money. Some things in life are special and shouldn't be subjected to cold accountant like objectivity.
p.s. Ironic that the polar bear too now is facing very real possibility of extinction. National Geographic says they may be gone by 2050.