Monday, January 12, 2009

Panda's Gone Wild

Panda alert! Panda alert! We have a panda that is acting like....well, a panda! That's right, a panda! Panda alert!

It seems that a panda, yes a panda, a panda in Beijing (the official sponsor of the panda) according to The Telegraph, "...has tasted human blood for the third time after attacking a man who jumped into the animal's enclosure to retrieve his son's toy." Wow. Way to lay the drama on thick there, UK reporter guys. Geez.

GuGu the panda (not to be confused with a distant cousin, GaGa the wallaby) lately seems to be dealing with an inordinate number of people in his living area there at the Beijing zoo. Actually, when there are supposed to be no people in the panda living area, even one person in there is a sure sign to the panda that something is wrong. It's very easy to spot something is awry when "normal" is "nothing" because "something" is therefore "something" and not "nothing".

I don't know what the deal is with the panda enclosure at the Beijing zoo, but if people are just able to hop on over it willy-nilly like they seem to do, perhaps the zoo might want to think about an alternate enclosure for the creature. I'm envisioning something similar to the tiger enclosure the way it used to be at the San Francisco Zoo. In that scenario (right before the tiger bolted from her enclosure to maul two zoo visitors and kill a third) the tiger was kind of on the honor system. It wasn't much more than a curb. really and the zookeepers must have thought that they had some sort of a deal with the tiger. It became clear that was not the case immediately after the tiger escaped and all of the mauling and killing began.

The Beijing Zoo apparently has five pandas. had the handy little graphic below to show where the five pandas are located at the zoo. I don't read Chinese (and the only thing in English on that map are the two emergency exits for some reason), but I'm going to guess that the one with the big yellow "Ka-Blam!" graphic next to it is GuGu. Just a guess, however.

Over there at is a pretty detailed description of what occurred. Apparently, a one Ding Ding (who, to my surprise, was not the name of another panda! No, it was the name of a young boy! He's going to be confused for a panda for the rest of his life whenever someone first hears his name. Poor little Ding Ding the panda. See how easy it is?) dropped his panda toy into the panda enclosure. That's when Ding Ding's Dad, Zhang Xiao (pronounce that however you want because I don't have a clue) jumped over the fence to get the toy. Bad idea number one right there.

Then a panda (presumably GuGu) went rushing at Ding Ding's Dad (who, from now on will be referred to as DDD for the purposes of this post). The key word there is "rushing". Panda, full speed ahead! That's when DDD did the natural thing and got out of the rushing pandas way. As he was trying to escape from inside of the enclosure, "....some bystanders, thinking the panda was harmless, urged him to stand his ground. Zhang stayed where he was and the panda made its attack, knocking Zhang down and biting his left leg." WTF?!

You're in a panda pen with said panda "rushing" at you while a bunch of people who are not in the pen, nor do they have a panda "rushing" at them, tell you "Oh, he's fine! Stay! Stay! Stand your ground, man!" And so you do? Why? What is wrong with you? How many times did he get bit? It wasn't enough. Stupidity deserves to be bit a lot.

"A 40-year-old zookeeper (Do we need to know how old the zookeeper is for a particular reason? Is it just to show that even those who are 40 can still save people from the jaws of a panda?) rushed to the scene and called for help from his fellow keepers. In minutes, the rescuers used hand tools to separate the panda from its victim." Hand tools? What kind of hand tools? Panda-jaw priers? Panda-jaw removal instruments? Panda-jaw insta-openers? What kind of tools? Who makes them? (Wait. Let me guess. Made in China?! I thought so!)

Having a panda's jaws clamped on your leg for any amount of time would be extremely painful. Heck, having any animals jaws clamped on your leg for any amount of time would hurt. It's not just exclusive to panda's that when they bite you it hurts. But despite all of the jaw clamping the man has "...undergone surgery for damage to major ligaments (I'm Major Ligaments! And where is Lieutenant Tendon and Corporal Cartilage?") and been given an anti-rabies vaccine, has no life-threatening injuries." Anti-rabies vaccine? I would assume that a panda, any panda, in a zoo would not have rabies, thus making the anti-rabies vaccine unnecessary. I suppose it could be a precaution, but I'm really thinking that they would know if they had a rabid panda on their hands. (All of the foaming over the bamboo and what not would be a tip off.) Yeah, he looks great down there, doesn't he? Geez.

But this is being reported in the media as if GuGu is some crazed and violent creature who just attacks people at will. (People, of course, who have climbed into her enclosure, that is.) This isn't a house cat. It's a panda bear. A bear. Bears, while they look all nice and cute and always seem quite friendly in cartoons (that Yogi and Boo-Boo always cracked me up) they will sooner knock you down with one paw and proceed to maul you to death in a rather undignified fashion while you scream in horror and agony. That's not very nice and cute and friendly. Pandas, while ever cuter looking because of that black and white facial thing they have going on, are still what? Bears, that is correct. And they will act like bears when? All the time, because they're bears, that is correct as well!

I don't know that I can fault an animal that has been in captivity in a zoo for several years when it attacks or rather, bites a human being who was too dumb to stay out of it's cage. I certainly can't fault it for biting a human being who was too dumb to get out of it's cage. So I think it's a little unfair to characterize the panda as violent or vicious or having a taste for human blood (like it's some sort of panda vampire or something. Though I'd really like to see something like that!). I think that the guy who jumped in the pen and then did decided to stand up to the rushing panda could, however, be fairly characterized as a moron who probably got what he deserved. And after all, the article did say that "Such attacks are frequent in China, where zoo-goers often approach the animals...for a closer look." There ya go! He got what he deserved. It's not like he had never heard of a panda attacking a person before. Happens all the time, apparently. Moron.

Next time, sir, just buy your kid a new toy. It will hurt less.

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On said...

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Nice to meet you.

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