« Letter From SichuanChina Ahead »
11.21.2002

On Pandas

The life of the giant panda deserves close study. This animal is active from approximately 8:30 to 10:00 AM, during which time it consumes 100 kg of its favorite food, red bamboo. The rest of the day is spent sleeping and in quiet contemplation.

Its indolent habits have earned the giant panda ( along with the red panda, its sidekick ) international fame and a handsome wildlife preserve north of Chengdu. There the pandas sleep, eat, and lie happily on their backs, stretching their legs up in the air ( the red pandas balance themselves from any handy tree limb, legs and tail dangling down ). Meanwhile we lesser beings scurry about trying to catch a glimpse of them, simultaneously avoiding the huge groups of loud People's Liberation Army soldiers on leave, who spit and shout "E! E!" at the pandas.

The Chinese name for panda is "da xiong mao", or "big bear cat", which just about describes both the size and behavior of this lovely lazy beast.

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