Friday, July 11, 2008


Overall, I didn't think much of the Beijing Zoo. I remember thinking that the great cat exhibit, in particular, was pretty tragic. Concrete floors and bar windows on enclosures not much bigger than a bedroom - it looked like an underfunded city animal shelter.

But the pandas!

In the US, you will never see eight pandas in a single enclosure. First, the "rent" to bring pandas over from China is one million dollars, and second, I don't think China would send so many even if the price could be met. They don't ordinarily display this many in China: these are the Olympic Pandas, chosen by internet vote to come to Beijing for the Olympics. Shasha - my host roommate from my exchanges student days at CET Harbin - said (in disturbingly excellent English) that these pandas are also 2, much younger than the normal age of display. However, they came from the Wolong Panda Research Center, which was severely hit by the Sichuan Earthquake. One panda there died. So who's to say that at least now, they're not better off in Beijing? The Olympic panda enclosure is particularly nice, nicer than the Asian Games panda enclosure next door (bringing the total of Beijing Zoo pandas to somewhere around 14 - an embarrassment of panda riches!).

Justin and I admire pandas:

Did I mention that it was at least 35 celcius (one bajillion Fahrenheit) in Beijing that day? Perhaps that is the explanation for this panda. We all just decided that he was drunk.

And lest you think that this panda post will have no food connection, behold! I spent too much time in the panda enclosure and temporarily imprinted on a panda. Bonus: You can see Shasha and Justin reflected in my sunglasses if you click to enlarge.

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