Doing it in the name of science is one thing. Doing it in the name of cuteness? Another thing altogether. If ever you wanted to make a case for letting natural selection step in and take its course, the panda would be Exhibit A.
“But Faust… you’re foaming at the mouth about… Pandas?”, you ask. Yes, indeedy I am. And if you knew Pandas like I knew Pandas, you would, too. Here’s why:
In the pantheon of astounding mammal intelligence, Pandas bottom out on the list, actually fitting more comfortably between the Ostrich and the Amoeba. They’re finicky eaters and have been known to starve to death in a land of plenty – that is, in the wild – making keeping them in captivity a headache.
They don’t reproduce well in the wild, either, which means breeding them in captivity requires the assistance of two apostles and a minor prophet. And once they do reproduce, they’re likely to forget what they’ve done and crush the pup to death while doing something important like sleeping or turning their nose up at perfectly good food.The only reason they’re not extinct by now – as well anything so idiotic should be – is because of the large patches of black fur around their eyes, making them look huge. As it turns out, humans are hardwired to show empathy toward large eyed creatures so we will instinctively nurture babies and children, and compulsively buy those paintings of adorable puppies and kittens painted on black velvet that you see at flea markets.
This means that human beings nearly kill themselves to keep these cute but essentially worthless creatures alive. This is why I refer to pandas as “God’s Little Practical Joke.”
Oh, and for a time they were not even considered bears. Blame for the species was given to the raccoons, who must have been smug over the fact that we labeled them as bears. The bears were equally smug until a recent DNA test confirmed the worst – Pandas really are members of the bear family. How embarrassing that must have been.