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One giant leap for giant pandas

Lovers of pandas all over the world rejoiced as their favorite furry fiscally farcical mascot bred their way out of near-extinction.

The news, reported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, cites the sloth-like Ailuropoda melanoleuca are repopulating due to “effective forest protection and reforestation”, thereby elevating themselves from Endangered to Vulnerable.

A native of south central China’s once-lush forests, it had the misfortune of evolving in such a way that its diet consists solely of bamboo. In terms of (metabolic) economics, this constitutes diminishing returns. But more on the financials later.

The panda grows to around 6ft tall and can weigh up to 300lb. An adult specimen has a bite force enough to splinter live bamboo – handy, considering it sits on its ass chewing for up to 15 hours to get its daily 45+lb of bamboo. The reed isn’t very nutritous, but to make the culinary choice of the sloth panda outright nonsensical, their digestive system can only process 20% of what they manage to scrap up or get fed. And what goes in must come out. If they’re not sleeping or eating, they’re literally full of shit.

Admittedly, the plight of the panda is human nature’s fault with deforestation. China’s ever-expanding urban sprawl has razed much of their natural habitat in which they could lumber through a half a mile a day, eating and shitting. But not to worry – zoos around the world are paying through their eyeballs to rent pandas from the Chinese government who technically owns all panda specimens on this planet. So whenever there is a panda birth, it makes the news. And apparently, China’s not too pleased with their cash cow panda no longer being perceived as being on the brink of oblivion. Even if a cub miraculously birthed outside of China means another $600,000.

There are many reasons to conserve animals. But if an animal has to be given cues on natural instinct including how to fuck in order to breed, then maybe those millions might be best invested elsewhere. At a rental cost of $1 million a year, the only argument to sustain the lethargic overgrown sloths is the revenue from families who visit zoos to ooh and aah.

The panda is quite possibly the most iconic black and white animal in the world. But we moved away from monochrome back in the 60s – incidentally, when the first efforts to conserve the panda were introduced. It’s fantastic that the somnolent species are no longer endangered, but spare a thought for the less publicized but far more critically endangered species*.

*The fucking irony of the WWF logo is not lost on me. Trust me.