I’ve been thinking about pandas lately. They’re not proper A-listers are they? I mean, they don’t wave back.
Tuning into the news recently, I saw hundreds of people lining a Scottish street, clapping and cheering and waving flags.
There were even bagpipes played at the airport. A state visit no doubt. I wondered which prominent figure was popping into Scotland for a quick visit.
It turned out to be Tian Tian (meaning sweetie) and Yang Guang (sunshine) – two giant pandas. Can you believe it? All these people were there just to glimpse a pair of pandas!
Last time I looked, pandas liked to spend most of their time lumbering around the mountainous forest areas of China, eating bamboo and the occasional rodent if they fancied a change.
I never knew they’d developed a liking of traditional Scottish music, or enjoyed the sort of reception usually reserved for Hollywood stars making their way down the red carpet.
What were these people doing lining the streets? Were they expecting the pandas to smile, stop and maybe sign a few autographs? I know we live in a culture of celebrity, but this seems ridiculous.
So what was behind humanising these animals? Publicity, that’s what.
With an estimated one million extra visitors expected because of the pandas, it would seem that Edinburgh Zoo will have some extra revenue in these hard financial times.
These animals have been successfully bred in captivity in their native China, so why send them all the way to Scotland for breeding?
If the zoo is really looking for a pricey conservation project, how about some animals native to Scotland, such as the Scottish wildcat – of which there are only 400 left.
The politicians have even jumped on the panda bandwagon, saying their arrival signifies the growing relationship between the UK and China. Hmmm.
However this turns out, the pandas should enjoy at least one thing about their stay in Scotland – the weather.
I believe their home in the Sichuan Province has a climate similar to that north of the border.