Giant pandas are often associated with both wildlife protection (the WWF has used it as an emblem since 1961) and Kung Fu for many Westerners. It is a great national treasure in China as well, symbolizing the delicate spirit, originality, and old culture of the country. The first known case of Panda Diplomacy began in 685 AD when Queen Wu Zetian gifted a pair of giant pandas to Japan. For every one thing that the average person knows about pandas, there are so many things that are still a mystery to most.
While it is common knowledge that diplomacy using pandas has a long history, for example, what people may not know is that pandas are only on loan and come with a high price tag. American zoos pay $1 million a year per panda. Most zoos sign 10-year “panda diplomacy” contracts, and if any baby cubs are born, they pay an additional one-time fee of $400,000 for a baby tax. That’s the least interesting fact about pandas, however.
Example sentences for 熊猫 (xióngmāo) Panda:
Nǐ jiànguò xióngmāo ma?
你 见过 熊猫 吗？
Have you ever seen a panda?
Xióngmāo shì zhōngguó de guóbǎo.
熊猫 是 中国 的 国宝。
The panda is China’s national treasure.
Did you know that although pandas are 99% vegetarian their digestive system is typical of a carnivore? For the 1% of their diet that isn’t bamboo, pandas eat eggs, small animals, carrion, and have even been found foraging on farmland for crops such as pumpkin, kidney beans, wheat, and even domestic pig food. We can’t blame them, bamboo for all meals of the day would get boring fast!
Example sentences for 竹子 (zhúzi) bamboo:
Zhúzi shì zhōngkōng de
竹子 是 中空 的。
Bamboo is hollow.
Huāyuán li yǒu zhúzi zài shēngzhǎng.
花园 里 有 竹子 在 生长。
There’s bamboo growing in the garden.
Also, Sichuan isn’t the only place wild pandas are found. There are 2 subspecies of the Giant Panda. The Qinling panda and the Sichuan panda are the two subspecies of giant pandas in China, based on where they are found. The Qinling panda population is restricted to the Qinling mountain range in the Chinese province of Shaanxi, whereas the Sichuan panda population is spread in small patches across Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces.
Only in the last century has the black and white bear been elevated to the status of China’s national symbol. The Chinese zodiac dates back over 2,000 years and contains everything from the mythological dragon to the dog— but no panda.
According to some articles, Pandas were once feared by Chinese folks in ancient times. They were characterized as black-and-white metal-devouring beasts. The mammals were known to descend from the highlands in search of bamboo, iron, or copper utensils, and were capable of chewing the nails off a city gate. This last part may very well be from village legends, however.
Example sentences for 哺乳动物 (bǔrǔ dòngwù) mammal:
Hǎitún shì yìzhǒng bǔrǔ dòngwù.
海豚 是 一种 哺乳 动物。
A dolphin is a kind of mammal.
Jīngyú hé mǎ yíyàng dōushì bǔrǔ dòngwù.
鲸鱼 和 马 一样 都是 哺乳 动物。
A whale is no less a mammal than a horse is.
If these panda facts are surprising, it’s also difficult to imagine pandas moving freely in their natural habitats because there are not many wild pandas surviving in the wild today. Seeing one can be a life-changing experience. Since there are fewer than 2,000 left in the wild, after decades of labor, it is apparent that the future of pandas and their forest habitat need substantially more effort, especially as the impact of climate change grows.
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