I’ve seen this picture floating around for a few weeks now and the sad thing is, the caption in completely right.
Pandas pretty much suck at everything. I know there are a lot of animal lovers out there, but let’s be realistic: pandas eat their own habitat in very large amounts*—yeah, they eat away the forest they live in—and they don’t have very much panda sex. I’m sure you’ve seen panda porn and other ideas on the news tried by zoos to try to get pandas to get down and dirty. But the fact of the matter is pandas are not reproducing naturally and when they do, they do so in very small litters (mean, their rate of reproduction, if it happens, is so laughably low).
*Pandas eat 20-40 pounds of bamboo a day, and while bamboo grows really quickly, it’s not really a good idea to eat the trees that you live in.
Bottom line is, you could argue pandas are not a very fit species. I mean, species go extinct every day from natural turns of events. That’s how ecology and evolution work: species are born and species die (go extinct). And yeah, you know, I’m sure humans have had their hand in crashing the panda population, but you know, there are so many other better animals to be spending billions on in conservation.
That’s the real issue at hand: stop wasting money on pandas. I mean yes, pandas are an excellent poster child for conservation and science. People like them, think they’re cute, and pandas are quickly recognizable.
But what the shit do pandas do in the wild? They eat bamboo. How does that contribute to an ecosystem? You could argue they help shape the ecosystem around them, but there is no way you could argue that a panda is more important than the conservation of a top predator. Top predators are so much more important in maintaining a population through top-bottom control than any omnivorish lump of fur.
Why aren’t we focusing our billions of dollars of conservation on freaking tigers? Tigers are as equally recognizable and cute as pandas (have you ever seen a tiger cub??) and have been the target of rampant poaching for hundreds of years, and as a result, they don’t really exist in the wild. This is the cause for much of the world, especially in Asia, where top predators are scarce. This is a huge issue for regenerating forests through conservation and what not—we need top predators.
So stop your stupid money game with pandas. They’re not a viable species, so they’re not a true conservation issue; at this point, they’re only a business issue. Conserve a species that has a large effect on its ecosystem. (For those of you into ecological networks, this would be a highly connected node, like a keystone species or structure.)
Food for thought: National Geographic – Is Breeding Pandas in Captivity Worth It?
Bloomberg Opinion Piece – Why I Hate Pandas And You Should Too