“If you want to hold a panda, bring 1300¥ in cash. No ATMs or exchange available.” After reading that sign, it seemed safe to assume that if I notified the police, the panda would be killed.
I would love to hold a panda. I would also love to eat a panda. It’s that kind of relationship. But not for $200 (to hold that is. I would totally pay $200 for a panda steak or hot pot panda.) In any case, panda meat is not an option at China’s Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
The 106 hectare Base has over 80 pandas frolicking about, though at the time of my visit, you could only see about 2/3 of them because several sections were cordoned off for Pambassadors, which, for the record, is not a real word.
Pandas will go extinct at some point. The only evolutionary advantage they have over other animals is that they’re so damn cute, someone is bound to protect them. They’re lazy, not terribly bright, maintain a limited diet, and are terrible parents.
Panda newborns, in litters of one or two babies, weigh in around 50 to 100 grams, roughly 1/1000 the weight of their mother. It’s not uncommon for mothers to forget about them and let them die, or accidentally crush them with their jaws.
According to the informational video, pandas are very playful and this is why parents often tell children, “You’re acting like a giant panda.” I always wondered why my parents used to tell me that. I just thought it was either because of how I used to smuggle bamboo into my bedroom for a midnight snack, or because they were threatening me with extinction.
In any case, they really are ridiculously cute. They look like drunk children in panda costumes, and that does seem like something worth saving.