The truth about pandas, survival of the least fit…
Inherently we, as humans, want to believe that the world is actually a fair place. However, instinctively, we know that survival of the fittest is the only natural law. Defending your own niche and expanding it, requires all the cunning and guile of a fox being chased by the Queens hounds. The ‘modern’ world has reached the point where natural selection is a less apt design for survival. Sure, a lion will eat the occasional delusional japanese tourist. But the world has degraded into a wealth of causes, cures and saviours. Acting like a baby giant panda may be the best survival method of them all. Let me explain.
The giant panda, as you may already know, is probably the most newsworthy endangered wildlife species on the planet. With current population estimates currently ranging from 1.5 – 6 thousand left in the world, the giant panda is on the brink of extinction. But did you know that Panda’a are only classified as an endangered species? Did you also know that there are currently 15 species of animals that are classified as critically endangered? (WWF)
We are a compassionate species. For the most part. En masse, human beings have a contemporary history of kindness and conservational outreach. But as individuals, what are we doing to save the animals on the endangered species list? I know that, I personally do far too little. In high school I educated myself and took the time to give back to my local natural surroundings, in my own way. It wasn’t much but it was what I was capable of at the time. I made a conscious choice to help and I chose a medium for action. Now that I have grown up in some senses I can’t find the time but perhaps should I find the right cause I will make more time.
How do you choose your charity? It seems like a rather innocuous question. Something that you could answer randomly but it still shows your character. There is no right or wrong answer, and you can’t save the world alone. So what do you pick? Animals or humans? The oppressed? The disabled? The sick? The dying? At the end of the day I believe that the charity picks you.
So back to my original thesis about how being a giant panda will keep you alive. Giant panda’s exist in the central and south western portions of China. They are currently in danger due to their habitat and diet being destroyed by deforestation and farming. Their diet consists predominantly of bamboo. But here’s the kicker, giant panda’s are carnivores! Carnivores, meat eating beasts! The problem is they are no longer able to catch and eat meat. Due to their diet of bamboo, which is low in nutrients, in addition to it being highly indigestible by the pandas, they do not have sufficient energy to function. Per day the average panda will eat up to 14KG of bamboo to meet their bodily energy demands. They produce one cub every two years on average and are bred in captivity all over the world.
If we were to look at this in a Darwinian context, panda’s should have died out long ago. Simply put, they are inefficient. They eat wrong, take too long to reproduce and their numbers are far too low already. There are also plenty of other animals who are far closer to extinction who may be easier to save. What it comes down to is the fact that Panda’s are cute. We look at them and either want to punch them in the face or cuddle them like Beary the childhood bear (not to be confused with pedobear). Perhaps being cute is the only survival mechanism that is important in the 21st century? If you were to learn a survival technique model yours after koala’s (equally moronic habits) and panda’s.
Needless to say, the WWF and countless other organisations are dedicating a lot of time and effort into conserving ALL of the endangered animals. Surely you could do the same. I started this article to make people think. To inspire people to donate their time and brain outside of the ‘cute’ causes of the world. Avoid America’s Next Best Cause (I wanted to write South Africa but America is much catchier) and donate however you can. I know that I will be doing just that in the future.
P.S. If you would like to read about more endangered species and stay educated you can check out the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) site.
On a side, and completely unrelated, note: I visited the Berlin Zoo about 3 days before Bao Bao passed away at age 34. He was a really really sleepy panda! It’s sad that he’s gone.