I recently read a short story about pandas, watched 2 documentaries on pandas, and enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2 . In my newfound expertise, have come to the conclusion that pandas are entirely pathetic creatures. First off, 99% of their diet is bamboo–delicious and not at all nutritious. A true bear, they have carnivore specific genes, carnivore teeth, and a carnivore digestive system, so they derive even less energy and protein from their food. They can’t hibernate for the winter because there is no way for them to store up enough fat. They don’t like moving around much. And they avoid mountains because it takes too much energy to climb. Males weigh up to 350 lbs. Females up to 280. They eat 20-30 lbs of bamboo shoots a day and can poop, with all that good roughage, up to 40 times a day. The rest of the Panda’s diet, the 1%, is other grasses, wild tubers, small birds, rodents, or carrion.
Pandas have very short life spans and sexually productive periods. They lose interest in mating once captured. Even in the wild they can’t raise more than one cub at a time–if more than one cub is born one is left to die–because their milk is so low in nutrition. And the cubs need nutrition. They start out pink, blind and furless, at a whopping 3.5-4.6 ounces.
In contrast, black bears weigh around 300 lbs and will eat nearly anything. Polar bears eat almost nothing but meat and weigh up to 1500 lbs. Grizzly bears also weigh up to 1500 lbs.
When my brother was in ninth grade he told me something that has stuck with me. The best stories are those in which normal everyday people discover something about themselves, something special, some heritage, special skill, or destiny, that launches them into a life of adventure, excellence, and self-fulfillment.
I guess I am waiting for the Giant Panda to remember it’s a kickass bear.