City Desk

Baby Panda at the National Zoo: Heartbreak Waiting to Happen

Butterstick, the National Zoo's last baby panda

There's a new baby panda at the National Zoo, and everybody's pumped. The zoo gets more visitors, D.C. residents get to shoot around naming ideas, and alleged "clueless breeder" Tian Tian gets to prove that he can spread his seed just fine, so long as he's got a couple million dollars backing him up. Everybody wins in Panda Mania...or do they?

How soon we have forgotten the lessons of Butterstick, the last panda Washington fell in love with. Even those of us who prefer the full-grown pandas, munching away like big ol' fatties, had to admit that the little beast was pretty cute.

Until he wasn't! Soon, Butterstick (pictured) was assailing (humping?) his handlers, hurting one's leg so badly that other keepers had to distract him with food so the wounded woman could escape. Then, China began a cruel back-and-forth about when it would eventually need him returned, acting as a stark reminder that China owns everything and everyone.

So far, D.C.'s avoided a cute bear twist of fate as cruel as, say, Knut the polar bear, but it's better not to risk the heartache. Or is it? Either way, baby panda cam's that way. I hear he/she is squeaking.

Photo by National Zoo used under a Creative Commons license

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  • Fred

    Nice Ben Freed impression.

  • Will Sommer

    Thanks, but there are subtle differences! For example, while Ben's critique is based on letting pandas die off so as not to offend evolution, mine comes focuses on the emotional impact of a panda.

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