a. bucket. of. words.

by Cherszy (@cherszy)

Pandas are Our Friends, Not Freaks on a Show: Come and Get to Know Them More

“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”

While Agnes (Despicable Me) is screaming her tonsils out for stuffed unicorns from the carnival, I am (and you will too) squealing at the sight of  super adorable pandas. And no, I’m not just talking about stuffed toy pandas that you can buy at some gift shop in China. I am talking about real pandas from the wild who are now sitting comfortably with their piles of delicious bamboos in artificially made, natural-looking habitats. Needless to say, they are absolutely adorable!

To share my wonderful experience of meeting these wild friends of ours, I have here a gallery of photos that I’ve taken from my trip to Hong Kong and Macau. Get ready to feast your eyes with soft furs, fluffy bods, and charming faces that will curve your lips to a smile and melt your hearts until they can melt no longer.

Warning: super cute photos ahead! Brace yourself and enjoy!

Giant Pandas

Meet Le Le, a giant panda with straight, oval-shaped eyes, from the Hong Kong Ocean Park (Amazing Asian Animals).

A giant panda’s diet is comprised of 99% bamboos, eating fruits and grasses every so often. They actually consume about 9 to 14 kg of bamboo shoots a day!

While there may be more than 65 types of bamboos, a giant panda is smart enough to choose the best one among the various types, that is the one with the most vitamins.

An adult giant panda has an average size of 5 ft. in length and 3 ft. in height.

Unlike their relatives, the polar bears, giant pandas do not hibernate during the winter period. Instead, they migrate to warmer areas and eat their bamboos.

Although giant pandas do not hibernate, it doesn’t mean they do not like to sleep. In fact, they sleep from 8 to 12 hours a day – much like us humans.

While the bodies of these pandas are bulky and heavy-looking, they only have a relatively low amount of body fat due to their diet. Just imagine what stuff is actually inside that big body if not fats…

They may be adorable and friendly-looking, but in reality, giant pandas are solitary animals who usually actively interact with fellow pandas during breeding periods. Who knew pandas were such snobs?

Now if you’re wondering when the mating period is, it is between the months of March and May when the female giant panda is having her estrous cycle, which occurs only once a year and lasts for two to three days.

Newborn panda cubs are almost always very fragile, weighing only around four to five ounces. They are also pink, blind, and toothless.

Break! Say hi to An An first, a 28-year-old giant male panda at the Hong Kong Ocean Park (Giant Panda Habitat).

Going back to our fun facts about our cuddly giant friends, did you know that these giant pandas live up to an average of 20-30 years only? Yup, that’s right! Too short, I should say.

Usually, pandas are peaceful and avoid attacking other creatures, but when it finds itself threatened, it will fight back. And with such a large mass, you might as well leave it alone.

You will know that a giant panda is about to attack when it leaves its bamboos, starts to lower its head, and looks you directly in the eye. Uh-oh, something tells me you’re in big trouble!

With bodies as large as dams and with faces so cute and friendly-looking, who would want to threaten these giant pandas? Let’s see… jackals, leopards, and yellow-throated martens – very few natural enemies indeed.

But, the greatest enemy these giant pandas have is humans who continue to practice deforestation, which is why they are labeled as endangered today.

While men continue to cut off trees to clear the land for farming or for commercial/industrial purposes in order to gain more money, these giant pandas continue to starve and lose their habitats, leading to the deaths of many of their species.

Come and play with Kai Kai and Xin Xin, two-year-old pandas from Coloane, Macau.

There are only a few thousands of them left in the world, whether in the wild or in captivity, and that is sad news.

Giant pandas are rare and are nice animals. They do not pose danger to humans nor to any other creature. Why would we want to endanger them?

China is one, or maybe the only place, where these giant pandas used to thrive. In efforts to make the appreciation of these animals a worldwide phenomenon (or I guess just to make ties with other countries for whatever ecopolitical reason), China has gifted 23 pandas to nine different countries all over the world: United States, Japan, Spain, Australia, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Thailand, and United Kingdom.

Giant pandas are beautiful creatures, and the least that we can do is protect them and care for them. The ones we see today might be the last of their breed if we don’t stop exploiting their habitats, so please, let us continue appreciating them and treat them well.

Let us make these pandas smile by showing them that we care and we love them. Trust me, when they smile and laugh, they are even more adorable. It will make you smile too.

Red Pandas

A special kind of panda is the red panda or what is also called as the fire fox. It is believed to be a crossbreed of a panda and a raccoon.

This is Cong Cong, a red panda from the Hong Kong Ocean Park (Amazing Asian Animals). Come and take a look at him!

Like the giant pandas, the red pandas also eat mostly bamboo for their diet although they have also been observed to eat mushrooms, acorns, grasses, and berries, among others.

Red pandas are nocturnal and crepuscular creatures, sleeping in the day and becoming very active towards dusk ’til dawn.

One interesting thing to note about red pandas is that they are heat-sensitive. They cannot tolerate temperatures that are higher than room temperature (25 degrees Celsius).

There is still much to know and learn about these extinct but absolutely adorable animals, but in the meantime, we can go and explore their habits (and cuteness) on our own before the scientists release their theories. At least a pair is scattered somewhere near us, so we can go give them a visit sometime just to appreciate what beauties they are. Like people, they also have the need to be understood and appreciated. Like us, they also hope of being cared for and loved; why hesitate in giving them that?

And like people, these pandas are also sensitive to camera flashes. I mean, I know they’re super cute and we just can’t get enough of them, but seriously, some people are just too stubborn to understand that pandas (and other animals in general) don’t appreciate being exposed to the light of camera flashes when their pictures are taken. It is painful to the eyes in case you people aren’t aware!

Do you know how extra agonizing it is to have multiple camera flashes around? Well, it is agonizing, period. Just imagine the number of people who use it just to capture a shot of one panda. Poor creature!

While using a camera flash usually makes a photo better in quality, it doesn’t mean we should use it all the time, especially when it threatens something. Pandas (or any other animal) do not like it, and we should respect that. Good quality photos may also be taken even without the flash, and even if our photos do not come out as good as we want them to be, we should not attempt to use flash because we are there in that particular room looking at these pandas not because we want to take good photos of them and take them home to show off to our friends. Rather, we are there because we want to appreciate these pandas and learn more about them and how we can care for them. If you’re there for a purpose other than these, then shame on you! You shouldn’t be there; the pandas do not need your presence. And if ever you take photos of them, it is to bring home a memory in order to further appreciate them and be reminded that there are extinct creatures like these pandas who need your help.

Please, everyone, be nice to pandas. Don’t use flash when taking their photos. It’s alright to take a picture of and with them, but don’t use flash. The people in these artificial habitats continuously remind you, so please listen.

Pandas are our friends, not freaks on a show – you take photos of and with them because you see a connection with them and not because you want to put them in an album labeled ‘the cute, the rare, and the bizarre’ and show it off to everyone who sits in your living room.

Respect them. Some of our more heartless fellow human beings have already exploited them enough; the least we can do is exchange that exploitation with love and care.

Save the pandas! Get yourselves involved and aware of the pandas’ condition these days through organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Pandas International, and Giant Panda Conservation Fund.

Love our pandas; they’re our friends, not freaks on a show – a friendly reminder from yours truly.

*Special thanks to the Wikipedia page for giant pandas and for red pandas, to WWF’s official page for giant pandas, to HowStuffWorks, and to Associated Content from Yahoo for my references.

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