The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal

By Dotinga, Randy | The Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal


Dotinga, Randy, The Christian Science Monitor


How our obsession with pandas has evolved from a disturbing dead- is-best approach to a kinder sort of appreciation.

Considering their famous resistance to mating in captivity, it may seem like pandas aren't much into adoring each other. Thankfully, we humans more than make up for their apparent lack of mutual regard: We love pandas to pieces.

People flock to zoos to see pandas up close. They're the emblems of both China and a leading advocacy organization for animals. And pandas are more than just cute and cuddly: they offer perspective about evolution and serve as a tool of international diplomacy.

Our obsessive fascination with pandas might make for a great story, especially if it comes with fresh insight into what they mean to us and what we mean to them (for better or worse). But in the hands of British science journalist Henry Nicholls, their tale never moves past the level of mildly intriguing.

In fact, both pandas and people come across as more dull than darling in Nicholl's new book The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal. Few of the human characters in this saga leap off the page, not even the intrepid 19th-century Western explorers who discovered pandas in China or the modern world's panda-trading politicians.

Nicholls does succeed at explaining how our obsession with pandas has evolved from a disturbing dead-is-best approach to a kinder sort of appreciation.

More than a century ago, museum collectors thought the best kind of panda was a shot and stuffed one, the better to take home and put on display. Ironically, this panda-unfriendly approach actually helped people to care about them for the first time. "After all, if you don't know what is out there, conservation is kind of meaningless."

As people learned to shoot pandas with cameras instead of rifles, they continued to fascinate scientists who argued over whether they're more closely related to the bear, raccoon, or another species called the lesser panda. The current consensus is that the giant panda is a bear.

Along came a challenge for the ages: Get a bear out of China and keep it alive, a task that required plenty of ingeniousness and intrigue. Then zoos had to figure out what to feed the pandas at urban zoos. (In Britain, the panda named Chi-Chi enjoyed chocolate, a spot of tea, and porridge that sent her right into nappy time. These days, bamboo - surprise! …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.