The Washington Post

Panda! Panda panda panda! Baby panda!


Before you accuse me of shameless attempts to pander, yes, that is exactly what this is. Bear with me.

Pander, in its loosest definition, means to go between two individuals and urge them to mate. And that seems to be all we ever do for the pandas. The zoo has been at it for some time, urging Mei Xian to mate and produce offspring with a persistence generally shown by your grandmother at holidays. But now, at long last, our efforts have borne fruition.

Pandas, as a species, seem to be largely decorative. But how decorative they are!

The baby panda is approximately the size of a stick of butter, which is for once an image of scale that makes total sense to me. If people described the economy and the size of ancient civilizations in comparison to sticks of butter, I would be able to form much more detailed opinions about them.

A regular picture is worth 1,000 words, but a picture of pandas is worth easily six times that, so this counts as possibly 18,000 words and may now be considered a Long Read.

I know that there are many people out there with strong, negative opinions of pandas. “Now see here,” they say. “Any species with so little drive to reproduce should be allowed to go extinct in peace, even if it has a fetching color scheme and goes with all the furniture. What about all the hideous bottom-feeding species with large eyes and tentacles that bear an uncanny resemblance to Nicolas Cage on a bad day, but who might be able to solve our medical problems? We do not go to great efforts to put THEM in the mood!”

Hanging out, in 2007. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

“Listen,” they continue, warming to the subject, “Pandas are, from all evidence, idiots. In the continual Hunger Games of natural selection, their entire survival strategy consists of convincing humans that they are too cute to die. And what’s worse is, it’s working! Aren’t you ashamed?”

To them I say, “Shhh! The baby panda is sleeping.”

For more pictures, try the panda cam here.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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