Do Pandas Actually Exist? Of us on TikTok Have a New Conspiracy Brewing

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Few animals are as beloved (and guarded) as big pandas. However whereas the species holds the standing of “nationwide treasure” in China, its very existence is at present being questioned on TikTok. Some customers of the platform declare that pandas aren’t actual. So what’s with this conspiracy principle that appears to fascinate the youthful technology?. Their cuddly, furry our bodies, massive eyes and clumsy stroll make big pandas notably endearing. It’s no marvel the black and white bear has turn into an emblem of environmental safety, in addition to the nationwide image of China, the one nation the place the species nonetheless lives within the wild.

Whereas the species has not been thought of endangered since 2016, some web customers say it by no means was. They even go additional, in truth, claiming that these mammals by no means existed within the first place, and are literally simply males dressed up in panda fits or bears painted black and white. This conspiracy principle is especially in style on TikTok, the place the hashtag #pandasnotreal counts over 6.2 million views.

Platform customers who subscribe to this conspiracy principle draw on a number of stunning info about big pandas. The primary one considerations their weight loss plan. This carnivorous species has turn into solely herbivorous following a genetic mutation. Their weight loss plan is actually made up of bamboo, which they nibble with their opposable “pseudo thumbs” and their highly effective jaws.

One other complicated facet singled out by web customers are the challenges pandas face in relation to reproducing. The perpetuation of the species is like an uphill battle. {Couples} can solely reproduce just a few days a yr, between February 15 and March 30, a interval throughout which the feminine panda is fertile for less than 48 hours. The males are additionally reluctant to breed… And these pitfalls increase questions amongst TikTok customers. “Pandas are so dangerous at life that they will’t even mate with out intervention. A primary animal intuition is inherently figuring out easy methods to get it on, they usually can’t even do this,” says an web person beneath the identify @that_pearl_witch.

Preventing the absurd with the absurd

This conspiracy principle concerning the non-existence of pandas will not be truly new. As Rolling Stone factors out, the Reddit discussion board has hosted discussions on the topic since 2015. “I’m pretty sure pandas are simply a particularly elaborate hoax,” reads one such musing. To which one other person replies: “I swear that is the reality. By some means all of the pandas right here within the US died and guys are dressed up in fits to maintain up relations with china.”

The resurgence of this fantasy about big pandas illustrates the truth that younger individuals, particularly youngsters, are the perfect goal for anybody seeking to unfold conspiracy theories. “They’re extra permeable due to an publicity bias, just because they get extra data on social networks. We all know that there’s a correlation between these informative makes use of — the actual fact of getting data on social networks, on on-line video platforms comparable to YouTube — and a better propensity to stick to numerous conspiracy theories,” Rudy Reichstadt, founding father of the location conspiracywatch.data, informed FranceInfo in 2021.

Nevertheless, some younger web customers are resisting, taking to the online to voice their despair on the conspiratorial leanings of right this moment’s society. The “Birds Are Not Actual” motion, for instance, based in 2017 by an American referred to as Peter McIndoe, seeks to fight misinformation with the absurd. It made headlines after infiltrating an anti-abortion protest in Cincinnati, Ohio, final yr. The group’s parody slogan, which claims that birds have been changed by drones because the Nineteen Seventies for covert surveillance functions, overshadowed the message of pro-life activists. If solely the panda conspiracy principle had the identical type of mission…

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