There’s been a lot of panda talk lately. It’s been borderline panda-monium.
Sorry. That was bad. I just couldn’t resist.
The latest came courtesy of The News Tribune’s top panda reporter, Melissa Santos, who’s apparently added the panda beat to her duties at the paper tirelessly covering state government.
It seems there’s a bit of a storm brewing over attempts spearheaded by Lakewood businessman Ron Chow and a collection of state lawmakers he’s enlisted trying to bring a pair of giant pandas from China to town.
Concerned about the potential cost and irked by the fact that they weren’t consulted before the public panda push was launched, officials at the Point Defiance Zoo have described the plan as, among other things, “very absurd.”
Undeterred, the Washington Panda Foundation — which Chow co-chairs — is moving forward. At a press conference Monday, the foundation announced plans to attend an international panda conference in China later this month, and there’s hope that officials with the China Giant Panda Conservation Office will visit Washington early next year. Meanwhile, the foundation is working to find private donors who could help with some of the costs involved.
Whatever your position in the great panda debate, I think we can all agree there’s been one key voice missing from the dialogue:
The voice of a panda.
Using my vast network of international contacts, I was able to get 10 minutes by phone with a real-life giant panda. Though our connection was spotty, and the time difference meant I spoke to the surprisingly talkative panda in the middle of the night, the following is exactly what transpired …
So, I’m curious to know, what have you heard about Tacoma? Are you excited about potentially making a home here?
Before we start, I need to get one thing straight: This isn’t going to be some Ivan the gorilla deal, right? China has its issues, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really interested in spending the next three decades in an aging shopping center on South Tacoma Way.
This isn’t going to be some Ivan the gorilla deal, right? China has its issues, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really interested in spending the next three decades in an aging shopping center on South Tacoma Way.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t an Ivan the gorilla deal. Tacoma’s come a long way.
Also, I don’t finger paint.
Won’t be a problem. So, about Tacoma …
Yeah, Tacoma, I probably could make it work. I mean, it could be worse. And, let’s be honest, I don’t really have much say in the matter. I’m just a pawn in all of this. A very cute pawn, mind you. But still a pawn.
I guess that’s true. You probably don’t get a cut of that $1 million a year zoos have to fork over to the Chinese government to host a panda, do you?
I get bamboo. And some tips on procreation, if I’m lucky. It’s a total racket. Maybe if Bruce “pandas are awesome” Dammeier gets elected Pierce County executive, he could take up our plight. Now there’s a politician who seems like he gets it.
Ah, so I see you’ve been paying attention to local events.
As much as possible. I splurged on an online subscription to The News Tribune when people started talking about sending me to Tacoma, but the pop-up ads drive me crazy. I mainly read The Nose, Police Beat and Seahawks coverage. And anything panda-related, of course.
You’ll fit right in.
Speaking of crime, I’m not in any danger in Tacoma, am I? A few of my buddies have warned me about it. They say it’s dangerous.
No, no, you’re fine. Like I said, Tacoma’s come a long way. Plus, you’ll be at the zoo. What could go wrong at the zoo?
I bet that’s exactly what Jaya the Sumatran tiger thought. RIP, Jaya.
Whoa. Whoa. Let’s back up. The folks who do public relations for the zoo and Metro Parks aren’t going to like where this is going.
Fine. What do you want to talk about? I’m pretty sure my handlers only agreed to 10 minutes. I’ve got a lot of things to do today.
Actually, that’s not true. All I do is eat bamboo and please humans with my cuteness. Also, I defecate a lot. Like 40 times a day. Did you know pandas can defecate 40 times a day?
I did not know that.
Well, now you do.
Here’s a question: Why does it cost so much to house you? Apparently there are zoos all across the country losing a lot of money on their panda exhibits. What’s up with that?
Look, you want a panda, you’ve got to pay. It’s just that simple. I don’t think our demands are out of line at all. We’re rock stars of the animal kingdom. We need bamboo, as I’ve mentioned, and a place to sit around and look cute. Also, I only drink top-shelf bottled spring water.
Honestly, I see all this “pandas are expensive” talk as just spin from the lame-stream media.
Honestly, I see all this “pandas are expensive” talk as just spin from the lame-stream media. You ever see what giraffes ask for? Talk about divas. It makes Kanye West’s rider look downright reasonable.
OK, your Chinese handler just jumped on the line and is telling me it’s time to end the call. Anything else you’d like to add before I let you go?
Seriously, just promise me this isn’t an Ivan the gorilla deal.
No Ivan the gorilla deal. I promise.