The Time for Panda Diplomacy

I have to admit that I love going to the zoo. I must visit every zoo in the countries that I have visited, and seeing giant pandas is one of the things on my bucket list. So far the only chance I could get to see them is by booking a flight from Jakarta to Singapore to their zoo, and getting additional ticket to the panda enclosure. Or if it’s from Melbourne, the closest panda enclosure is at Adelaide zoo.

I still remember when I was still finishing my undergraduate study in Indonesia, there was a talk in about the Chinese government was about to send their two giant pandas to Indonesia. In return, the Indonesian government would give them komodo dragons. It was followed with the rumour of the national zoo building a new enclosure for the panda. It is said the enclosure will resemble a three-tier Chinese temple. This, of course, will fuel the speculation even further.

Witnessing this bamboo-loving bear is one my bucket list. Image Credit: Sand_of_time via Flickr

Now it is no longer a speculation, the giant panda already arrived in Indonesia on Thursday morning and soon the Indonesians will get the chance to see them up-close. They flew the giant panda straight from Chengdu to Jakarta. Our flight carrier even did an extra length to fly these giant pandas by creating a direct flight, without the usual layover in Bali. Avoiding Bali might be good for the giant pandas since one of the biggest volcanoes in Bali can erupt any time now. Less stress for the giant pandas would help their adaptation process to the Indonesia’s tropical climate.

The naked truth about panda

So, what is interesting about panda? What set them apart from the rest of the animals in the bear family aside from their signature black and white colour? First of all, pandas have evolved to lost their umami taste receptor. It is the reason why they prefer to munch on bamboo. But they still keep their meat-chewing teeth, enabling them to still eat meat if the opportunity arises.

While conservation is the best way to help increasing the giant panda population, it also has a serious downside. For some reason, the great pandas in captivity lost their libido. This has led to the existence of panda porn to encourage them to find a partner.

But not every pandas are born with black and white fur. It is also worth-remembering that every giant pandas in zoo all around the world are only lend by the Chinese government to help them with their conservation program. There could be several outcomes once the conservation program is deemed as successful, the giant panda couple with their cub could return to China.

The Chinese government also sponsor the panda breeding program in the country where their pandas are located. Receiving giant pandas from the Chinese government also signify a good bilateral relationship between countries. And we do not need to get into political here, but let’s admit we will not be able to refuse the panda diplomacy.


5 Responses to “The Time for Panda Diplomacy”

  1. Jethro Hasoloan says:

    Wow, such an interesting post Novi. I’d never realise many nation around the world use animals to increase bilateral relationship. Perhaps, more nations can utilize similar style of diplomacy to increase global community awareness on endangered species

  2. Hey Gabriel, I personally think the money would be nice to help the Sumatran tiger, or even Javanese tiger.

  3. Hey Alasdair, unfortunately I have no information about “panda diplomacy” for other countries. But it certainly would be an interesting diplomacy to do for other countries.

  4. Gabriel Cornell says:

    I sometimes wonder if all the focus on the panda is more politics than conservation. Do you reckon that the money spent on the panda could be better spent elsewhere, possibly helping more (perhaps less iconic) species?

  5. Alasdair Browning says:

    Great to hear more about Pandas. They really are a very weird animal, seemingly evolving down a path that is negatively affecting their survival especially by consuming a nutrient-lacking food source. The politics of panda’s is fascinating- is China the only country that has exclusive ‘rights’ over any sort of animal?