It's Time We Let Pandas Die Out

Keeping the species going is a waste of time and money, writes Timothy Lavin
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2013 10:21 AM CDT
It's Time We Let Pandas Die Out
Giant panda Shin Shin holds bamboo while sitting inside her glass enclosure at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

This may prove to be one of the more controversial opinion pieces in recent memory. Timothy Lavin isn't slamming sleazy politicians or Wall Street bankers. No, he's speaking out against ... pandas. Cute as they are, Lavin writes at Bloomberg, they are a "hopeless and wasteful species the world should've given up on long ago." The economics of keeping the notoriously tricky-to-breed animal are "simply unjustifiable": US zoos pay China $1 million for a single panda (and if she births a cub, that's another $600,000), Canada spent $10 million renting them last year, and their upkeep is five times that of elephants—a zoo's next priciest animal.

And pandas don't even seem to want to survive. In the wild, they're prone to inbreeding. In captivity, zoos are forced to use Viagra and animal-porn to encourage them to mate, or resort to artificial insemination. They're slow and lazy, and use their predatory teeth for nothing but eating bamboo—a plant that's also disappearing. "Look, Darwinism isn't for crybabies. And conservation requires making tough choices,' writes Lavin. "Pandas had a pretty good run for 3 million years. All that money is better spent on preserving diverse habitats rather than on a single hopeless species." Read Lavin's spirited column here. (More pandas stories.)

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