BAMBOOZLED

On the weekend of Bao Bao's public debut, Post illustrator Richard Johnson questions pandamonium's fuzzy logic.

Just what is it about pandas that people find so captivating? Why do we let their two-tone fuzziness – “Ooh, look at that one!” – get in the way of rational thinking? We need to recognize these clownish hucksters – “Now that is too cute!” – for what they are: money pits, Chinese bargaining chips and evolutionary wastes of time. Ever since becoming a global conservation mascot, the last hangers-on of this doomed species have done little but laze around on their ample – “Little chubby-wubby!” – black-and-white buttocks, stuffing their faces with bamboo and steadfastly avoiding procreation. The Chinese government is happy to loan them out – “Aww, look, he is so tired” – for $500,000 a year, plus favorable trade deals. But the National Zoo could never hope to sell enough snow cones to make back its investment. So let's use the money on more promising causes and ditch these – “Huggable lumps of beary love!” – bloated, dense, sad-sack bear impersonators. “Except for that one. He is to die for!”

Download a panda poster from our print edition here.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Richard Johnson; GRAPHIC: Denise Lu - The Washington Post. Published Jan. 17, 2014.