Panda Fever Spreads to Crocs, Elephants
Thai zookeepers paint other endagered animals to compete
By Jen Paton,  Newser User
Posted Dec 5, 2009 8:16 AM CST
Elephants - the Thai national symbol - dressed like pandas. A staff member at the Ayutthaya, Thailand Elephant Kraal look on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at three elephants painted to resemble Pandas   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Panda fever is so intense in Thailand, since the birth of its cub, Li Ping, last May, that zookeepers are painting crocs and elephants in panda colors just to get some of the attention. Li Pang, whose parents are on loan from China, has millions of fans and a 24-hour television channel, reports the Wall Street Journal, and the cub has been a bonanza for the zoo: "It's like winning the lottery," says the director, who often wears a panda-suit for interviews.

Aquariums and animal parks are eager to cash in, as well as educate visitors about Thailand’s own endangered animals. "They're an endangered species, too, like the panda, so we hope some of our knowledge will trickle down," says a crocodile wrangler who's painting baby crocs to appeal to school children. And it seems to be working: said one young visitor, “crocodiles are scary but this one is cute.”