In Belgium, the birth of giant panda twins this week at Pairi Daiza Animal Park was declared an “extremely rare” event this Friday. In 2017, Yuan Meng, a panda cub at the Beauval Zoo (Loir-et-Cher), caused a stir in France – the animal, whose godmother is First Lady Brigitte Macron, turned two over the weekend. past.
The daily life of pandas is carefully photographed in animal parks. Just type “panda gif” on the Internet to see dozens of animated images of this mammal. In short, with its round muzzle and two-tone coat, the panda never ceases to win fans.
Made to please
One of his arguments in favor of seduction, of course, is … his physique. “The success of the panda with the general public is due to its two-tone coloration. This is a bear, but with a special color. […] It gives him the look of a teddy bear, even if he really isn’t.” on BFMTV founder of the site panda.fr.
In animals, “large eyes and soft facial features awaken our parental instincts because they remind us of a human child,” Hal Herzog, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, analyzes in an interview with AFP. Features like a panda, with a large head, small ears and eyes surrounded by large black spots. Some poses of Ursids remind us of ours: “Sitting on their backs, grabbing bamboo stalks with their paws, they suck and hold their cubs in their arms, like we do,” says with Nauk and Avenir Alexandra Widanowski, public relations officer at the Piri Daiza Zoo.
Not to mention the many videos of cute little pandas playing with caregivers. If a plantigrade seems to have everything a big teddy bear has, he should not be trusted. Animal, very powerful, big loner.
The physical evolution of the panda is also surprising: at birth, almost hairless, it looks like a big pink rat. But the hairs are very quickly colored and the panda cubs grow and grow quickly. Thus, at the age of three months, Yuan Meng weighed three times as much as when he was born!
The panda is also a real symbol.
China understood the panda craze and made it a “goodwill envoy” of its cultural exchange with foreign countries. Thus, in 1973, Beijing offered the Pompidou a pair of giant pandas (which turned out to be two males). The last donation of a pair of bears to the Moscow Zoo in Russia to date was made in April 2019. Thus, the People’s Republic of China “loaned” giant pandas to about twenty zoological parks around the world.
This gesture is evidence of good mutual understanding between states. In 2013, a study by the University of Oxford was published. in the journal Ecological practice stressed that the panda loans often coincided with the signing of important contracts between China and the mammal’s host country.
He represents endangered species
The image of the panda is also closely associated with the protection of endangered species, to the point that the environmental organization WWF chose it for its logo. The rarity of the animal helps generate interest around it: according to WWF, only 1,864 giant pandas remain in the wild. Efforts made to save the species nevertheless seem to be paying off, as in 2016 the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) upgraded the status of the panda from “endangered” to “vulnerable”.
Is he focusing on compassion, risking taking over his place in public opinion? British biologist Simon Watt’s book, which deals with animals that are endangered because they are not “attractive” enough to generate public interest, is ironically titled Ugly Animals: We Can’t All Be Pandas (French: Ugly Animals: we can’t all be pandas”).
“When we protect emblematic species, we protect their habitat, and all the organisms that are inside benefit from it,” but on BFMTV, Frederic Legendre, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural History in France, notes a nuance.
And the panda remains a species that needs to be protected. Its natural habitat remains under threat. The increase in the population is mainly due to captive birth of animals that are sometimes difficult to reintroduce into their natural environment.