The Safe, Sexless Lives of Pandas
There is nothing sexy about a panda bear. It is plump and lethargic. It has a thick band of black hair across it’s humped back and sad, dark bags under it’s beady eyes. If a panda bear had asked me to the prom, I would have turned it down. Honestly, but gently:
I’m sorry. You’re so cute, but I’m just not attracted to you in that way. I still want to be friends. Hug?
The female panda is only in the mood for one day out of the entire year, and that puts an awful lot of pressure on the male, who can’t maintain that lovin’ feeling for more than 30 seconds. Endangered? Well, I guess so. How are these bears not flat-out extinct?
I read an article in The Week this morning about two pandas named Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. These two awkward bears were set up by the National Zoo.
Zoos do for the animal kingdom what eHarmony now does for mankind. They put animals into pairs and help them procreate – animals that, if left in the wild and to their own devices, wouldn’t stand a chance.
I will include a link to the panda story, and I want you to read it and tell me if it makes you feel as embarrassed and uncomfortable as it does me. Poor, desperate Mei Xiang made quite a fool of herself rubbing her scent glands all over the place and walking around tail-first. Tian Tian, stymied by performance anxiety and inexperience, did nothing. The zookeepers tried to prod them along with dirty panda movies and platforms, but there was no helping these two. Mei Xiang wouldn’t stay on her feet, kept lying on her belly, and Tian Tian wasn’t aggressive enough to pick her back up and hold her in place.
In the end, Mei Xiang is artificially inseminated. Her entire atmosphere is artificial, so I guess it is fitting. And so it is with captivity: to be safe from danger for all the days of your life is to be similarly insulated from many pleasures that make for a life worth living.