Thursday, November 1, 2012

Viagra, Pornography, and the Giant Panda


Today's birthday post goes out to Maggie Zhang!  Happy birthday Maggie!  If you have a birthday coming up, just email me the date at cuyvaldar123946@gmail.com with the date and your favorite animal, and I will do my best to get a post in!
One of the many pictures of the giant panda that we took at the San Diego Zoo in California.  In fact, all of the giant panda pictures in this post were taken by my family and I.
Today we will be looking at a very interesting animal known colloquially as the "giant panda" (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), which translates to "black and white cat-foot."  Classified as "Endangered" by the IUCN, the giant panda is not only a symbol of its homeland of China (as well as its only land), but also for conservation efforts worldwide, being the symbol for the World Wildlife Fund.  It's closest living relative is the South American spectacled bear, and is frequently referred to as a "living fossil" due to its early branching from the rest of the family Ursidae.  Due to its basal position in the bear family, controversy surrounded the panda for many years as scientists struggled to determine where it belonged, often suggesting a close relation to both the raccoon and the red panda, who gets its name from the giant panda.  These two are only distantly related, however, despite the fact that they live in the same area, have largely the same diet, and both have what is essentially a thumb on their front paws.
Notice how the panda is grasping the bamboo, employing the use of its thumb appendages
It is estimated that the giant panda has been evolving away from the other bears for more than three million years due to the discovery of Ailuropoda microta, or the "dwarf giant panda."  The first skull discovered of the dwarf giant panda was in rocks in southern China that are around two million years old.  The skull indicates that this relative of the giant panda would have grown to around three feet in length, while the modern panda grows to a length of around five feet.  Despite the size difference, the skulls of the dwarf and giant pandas are actually quite similar anatomically, and dentition studies (studies of the animals teeth) indicate that the diet of Ailuropoda microta consisted largely of bamboo, much like the extant panda, for whom bamboo composes about 99% of its diet.  The giant panda will also consume tubers, grasses, and even meat when it can get it, like carrion, but also rodents and birds.
The giant panda at the zoo searching for the food that the zookeepers left for it around the exhibit
And now the reason why most of you are here: panda pornography and Viagra.  When I was researching the giant panda for this post, I ducked on to Wikipedia to employ the use of their range map of the giant panda.  At the bottom of the page, under the "See Also" tab, I couldn't help but notice the page entitled "Panda Pornography."  More than a little intrigued, I investigated, and its really quite funny, and not as weird as many of you were probably expecting.
No panda pornography here, but more of "The giant panda at the zoo searching for the food that the zookeepers left for it around the exhibit"

Many attempts to breed the giant panda in captivity have been made, given its "Endangered" status.  They are doing better now, and many pandas have been bred in zoos in China as well as at the San Diego Zoo in California, where apparently six have now been born.  (To see the "Panda Cam" at the zoo, click HEREEEEE).  Zoologists at a Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand showed their pandas "panda pornogrpahy," literally just a bunch of videos of other giant pandas mating.  They hoped that the pandas would use this as a guide, and that it would arouse them.  Huh.  Despite the fact that this particular group of zoologists seemed to think the whole thing a success, efforts to duplicate the experiment have failed, causing the whole concept of panda pornography to come under intense scrutiny. 
The giant panda at the zoo searching for the food that the zookeepers left for it around the exhibit
The giant panda at the zoo searching for the food that the zookeepers left for it around the exhibit

The giant panda at the zoo searching for the food that the zookeepers left for it around the exhibit
Furthermore, some Chinese scientists at the Wolong Nature Reserve attempted to excite the pandas by giving them Viagra.  Again, huh.  I mean, wouldn't you think that Viagra would be geared towards humans, and not necessarily bears?  I would, but I guess I don't know.  Despite their efforts, the Viagra trials were unsuccessful. 
The giant panda, again grasping its food with its "pseudo-thumb" thingy

Now for those of you who want a funny panda video, click on the link before to see one of my most favorite videos of all time: the Sneezing Baby Panda.  And for those of you who want more, just click on one of my new favorite videos, the "Escaping Baby Pandas" video, below the link below!  Enjoy!

The Sneezing Baby Panda!

Escaping Baby Pandas

1 comment:

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