4 bizarre, darkish issues it is best to in all probability learn about pandas

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Meet large panda Er Shun, one of many two pandas arriving in Canada this month. There could also be fewer than 5,000 pandas left on the planet within the wild and in captivity, however getting them to breed in captivity has grow to be one thing of a bed room farce.

Canada was in a lather Monday morning as two pandas that had been FedExed from China to the Toronto Zoo lastly arrived within the nation. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his spouse Laureen had been there to greet Er Shun and Da Mao, a scheduling determination that has the whole lot to do with the bears being a present from the Chinese language authorities, and never a factor to do with the occasion being an ideal photograph op that can lead all night newscasts throughout which grinning anchors will consult with “panda-monium” as they die somewhat on the within.

Whereas the nation breathlessly awaits the bears’ unveiling, right here are some things it’s essential know in regards to the bizarre and darkish aspect of pandas:

They’re an endangered species that’s horrible at intercourse however likes pornography. There could also be fewer than 2,000 large pandas left on the planet within the wild and in captivity, however getting them to breed in captivity has grow to be one thing of a bed room farce. The females solely go into warmth yearly, a while within the spring, and are solely fertile for 3 days at most. In case you solely bought to do it yearly throughout an indeterminate few days, you would be awful at it too. Final yr, a mating pair loaned by China to the Edinburgh Zoo had been so clumsy {that a} zookeeper was required to achieve in-between the bears with a protracted pole and transfer the feminine’s tail out of the best way. Attractive.

Usually, researchers blame the females. (They’d tried giving Viagra to the males and that did not work.) The suspicion is that woman pandas lose their want in captivity, so this yr the keepers at China’s essential panda breeding and analysis centre confirmed one mating pair a video of pandas doing it within the wild. And it labored! The porn led the pair to copulate twice. We nonetheless do not know if the feminine really bought pregnant, however we do know pandas dig hard-core.

They’re costly to maintain in zoos. In line with a 2006 New York Instances article, pandas value 5 occasions as a lot as the subsequent most costly animal to be saved in a zoo. They’re shy animals that require custom-built shelters, further handlers and mammoth quantities of bamboo, which is pricey to import and to develop in North America. FedEx has a deal to ship 900 kilos of bamboo per week to the Toronto Zoo through the pandas’ keep. (Er Shun and Da Mao will likely be shipped to Calgary after 5 years for the second half of their 10-year go to.)

After which there are the charges the Chinese language authorities fees for what is basically an animal-rental service. The Instances says the standard 10-year contract for a mating pair prices $1-million (U.S.) a yr. Zoos can rely on huge will increase in customer site visitors after they get pandas, however the site visitors can dwindle over the course of a 10-year deal. Except, in fact, the pandas handle to have offspring, which generally is a enormous draw and rekindle curiosity. However, once more in response to the Instances, the rental charges mechanically go up by as a lot as $600,000 a yr when a pair has a cub.

Pandas are political pawns of the Chinese language authorities. Let’s face it: If the Canadian authorities persistently voiced loud public objections to human rights abuses and Web censorship in China and did not work assiduously to extend commerce between the 2 nations, would we be getting a pair of pandas?

They’re cute as hell, however they will not be price breeding in captivity. It is not a well-liked opinion, particularly for the reason that panda is the official mascot of the highly effective World Wildlife Fund and a common image of conservation, however at the least one particular person thinks breeding the bears in captivity is just not well worth the hundreds of thousands it prices. Pandas are in peril as a result of their pure habitat, bamboo forests, is disappearing. A British TV present host made the argument in 2008 that there isn’t any level breeding so-called “superstar animals” if their habitat not exists, particularly when it is carried out on the expense of much less stylish species. “I reckon we must always pull the plug,” mentioned Chris Packham. “Allow them to go together with a level of dignity.

“The panda is probably one of many grossest wastes of conservation cash within the final half century,” Mr. Packham argued.

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