Monday, February 25, 2013

Pandas

And now, a completely random topic: pandas! Aren't they cute?

Actually, I confess: this isn't random. We're currently planning a road trip that involves a stop in Memphis, and while looking for things to do there that do not involve going to Graceland (Amber's already been, and it wouldn't be worth the money for me), I discovered that the Memphis Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States that has pandas.

...that is, for now. You see, the only way non-Chinese zoos can access pandas is to "loan" them for ten years at a time. And when did the Memphis Zoo's loan start? That would be April 2003, which means that by the time we're in Memphis (mid-May), they might be gone. The Memphis Zoo is currently in negotiations to extend the contract, but who knows what the outcome of this will be.

According to that article, of the four United States zoos currently housing pandas -San Diego, Atlanta, and Washington are the others - the Memphis Zoo is the only one that has been unable to produce any panda offspring. That's sad, no? One thing I'm actually not sure about is if any would-be panda cubs are the property of the zoo where they were born, or of China. I'm guessing, China. Jerks.

Well, regardless, pandas are very difficult to breed. They're only fertile for one to three days a year. Makes you wonder how the species made it this far, doesn't it?

Other things I learned about pandas - by reading the Wikipedia article, of course - are that they're four to six feet tall, and that a "giant panda" and a "panda" are the same thing. I honestly wasn't sure if pandas were, like, koala-sized, or what. I've never seen one in person (as far as I can remember).

Our only incentive to go to the Memphis Zoo is if they still have the pandas there. Otherwise it's just another zoo, right? And even then, it'll only be our second priority. (This is the first.) I'll keep you posted.

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