Without a doubt, one of the most overrated species walking this planet is the panda.
The giant panda, or to give its fancy Latin name, Ailuropoda melanoleuca (literally ‘black and White cat-foot), is a world-acknowledged icon of the conservation movement despite the fact that it would seem that the chubby white-faced buggers seemed determined to wipe themselves out of existence. To have these bamboo eating gits as a symbol of organisations dedicated to preserving endangered species is like Fathers 4 Justice conducting their next campaigned dressed as Josef Fritzel.
1) They don’t realise that they’re supposed to eat meat.
Pandas are classified as bears and, more importantly, carnivores. They have the teeth of carnivores, the build of carnivores and the digestive systems if carnivores. So what do they eat?
They are meat eaters that only eat vegetation.
Why is it a bad thing for a carnivore to eat an almost exclusively vegetarian diet you ask? Well, how about the fact they can’t digest the damn stuff. They have to eat 9 to 14 kg of bamboo everyday just to get enough protein and energy to spend their entire waking day wandering around looking for more bamboo! They have to defecate up to 40 times a day and most of their shit is composed of undigested bamboo.
In essence, pandas are bamboo redistribution machines that can easily starve to death if they live in areas with low bamboo yields.
Because of their low caloric intake, these fluff-balls of vegi-poo don’t really have the energy for social interaction so in the wild they tend to avoid other pandas. This leads to my second problem with them.
2) Their inability to breed.
It’s a well-known fact that pandas very rarely breed in captivity and this has led to serious problems with our plans to stop them dying out. The only way really to get baby pandas is to artificially inseminate them as, once they’re in a zoo, the male panda turns into a six-year-old boy and no longer wants anything to do with the females as ‘girls smell and are pooey’. Not my words, the words of Ling-Ling (prove me wrong).
Before the idea came to scientists that the best way to get baby pandas was to milk daddy and squirt the results up mummy, they tried a whole bunch of ways to get the bears to get jiggy, not limited to but definitely including, giving them Viagra and showing them videos of other pandas mating.
I kid you not.
They showed them panda porn.
(this if course does make me wonder how they got hold of the stuff in the first place seeing as pandas seem to find the whole idea of shagging so unacceptable. I imagine somewhere a zoo keeper slipped a six-pack of beer and a couple of bottles of vodka into the enclosure whilst assuring the occupants that the video was just for his own personal use and was definitely not going to end up on the Internet.)
Evidently, little blue pills and grot tapes don’t do the business so the zoo equivalent of Robert Winston has to step in with some rubber gloves, KY jelly and an industrial sized turkey-baster to sort things out, but pandas aren’t particularly amorous outside their cages either.
When the chubby-funsters reach sexual maturity, the females are only fertile for about two to three days of the year so any willing males looking for some panda-poon (pan-poon if you wish) had better hope they’re close by when she’s offering it up or they’re gonna have to suffer from blue balls for another 12 months (or maybe not. Pandas have, over the years, developed a ‘thumb’ alongside their five fingers. Maybe that’s why they have no interest in breeding in captivity they’re too busy playing with little Ping-Pong whilst watch top quality panda porn [pan-porn] to have any interest in the ladies in the cage).
When they do get down to business, the male will ride the female for any amount of time between thirty seconds and five minutes and I’m pretty sure we’ve just found out why the ladies really have no interest in the guys. The males will however mount her several times to ensure successful fertilisation, presumably whilst complaining about having to do all the work and wondering if grizzlies have to put up with all this crap.
Once he’s done, the male leaves and let’s the fertilised female give birth in her own time and bring up his spawn all on her own. Don’t expect a March of the Pandas film to go down well with the ultra-conservative Christians who applauded the penguin movie for its promotion of family values.
Panda babies are small and vulnerable, in fact some would argue too small for the mother to do a decent job protecting them. Also, if she has twins, one has to be left to die as her crappy bamboo diet is so nutritionally poor, she doesn’t have the fat reserves to feed both of them.
Those main points again:
Pandas eat the wrong kind of food so they have to feed constantly and consequently never hibernate like other bears.
They don’t like each others company but if they do happen to meet up on the couple of days a year when the female is up for some heavy shagging, the male will climb aboard for a few minutes before buggering off to leave the inadequately prepared female to try to bring up the pup on her own.
And people think pandas are a good symbol to inspire the world to look after endangered species?
I’ll leave the last words to Chris Packham, naturalist and tv presenter from 2009:
‘it’s time to give up on the cute and cuddly [giant panda] because we just can’t afford it and we need to think of a much bigger picture […] Giant pandas cost too much to protect and should be allowed to become extinct.’
Which is a marginally less controversial rephrasing of his earlier comments in 2008:
Well said that man.