Friday, August 14, 2009


The other night, I tuned in to the San Diego Zoo Panda Cam as I do regularly. There, I was treated to the sight of a panda having a nosh. This, in and of itself, is not all that unusual. A pandas gotta eat, right? And this one really seemed to be enjoying the process.

However, I was very disturbed by what I saw. This panda was nibbling on what I could only guess was one of those naked mole rats you hear about from time to time. (At least I hear about them from time to time. The things you hear may be different...) I was extremely upset by this. My first thought was that it was rather callous of the guy running the panda-cam to keep zooming in on this horrific scene. My second was to wonder who I could call because pandas are supposed to be jolly, rolly-poly creatures who eat bamboo. They are most certainly not supposed to be vicious carnivores with a taste for naked mole rat flesh. I wanted this blatant example of false advertising dealt with immediately!

It soon became apparent, even to someone in a state of high agitation over the murder of naked mole rats, that I had misread the visual just a bit. That was not a naked mole rat, nor was it being consumed.

No. It was a baby panda being gently licked by its loving mommy panda. No naked mole rats were harmed in the making of this panda-cam moment. They didn't even show up for the shoot. A quick visit to the zoo site confirmed my suspicions.

In my defense, I should say that I view the panda-cam from my computer's dashboard and there is no text to help me decipher what I am seeing. Frankly, I didn't think I'd need it what with my general panda knowledge and all. In addition, a baby panda bears no resemblance whatsoever to what we typically think of when someone says, "panda."

They look like naked mole rats. Hence, the confusion.

Later, I realized that I should have taken a screen shot because how many times are you going to see a baby panda? I suppose if you work in the panda field, you'll get a few opportunities. The rest of us are out of luck. It became my mission to get a picture of this little bugger.

This is harder than you think. First of all, baby pandas are tiny. Think "stick of butter." That's what the website used for comparison. Secondly, Mommy Pandas are very protective of their babies and like to curl right around them. I suppose the fact that baby has no fur and looks like a naked mole rat might have something to do with that. No one wants their offspring to be the target of laughter and harsh judgement. Then there's the fact that I can't spend my whole day watching the panda-cam hoping for a glimpse because that would border on obsessive. I had a challenge on my hands here!

But for you, I tried. I actually do have a little bit more time for this kind of nonsense right now and some of you do not. I made the effort because you and the baby panda are worth it. It took up some valuable knitting time, but there you go. I'm just that kind of gal.

And maybe a little bit obsessed now that I think about it...

Today, I finally managed to get something. Please understand that even the best shot is going to be fuzzy and remember what I said about the size of this thing. It's so small, they can't even tell whether it's a boy or a girl yet! But I did my best. What you are looking for is the little blob under Mommy Panda's chin. Just pretend you are looking for a naked mole rat and you should be fine...

"Oooohs" and "Ahhhhs" are perfectly appropriate here.

But anyone who goes, "Awwww" is going to be outed as a liar because there is absolutely nothing cute about a baby panda. Nothing.

There. Now I won't have to feel like I wasted my entire summer vacation. Or the last two days spent staring at the panda cam and yelling, "Move!!!!!" I have successfully captured a baby panda on digital media for you. I'm tired...

In all seriousness, though, I do suggest stopping by the website if you get the chance. Apple has a download for a widget that will let Mac users watch from the desktop and that has made panda ogling ever so much easier for me. Glimpses of the baby are rare, but the camera is now devoted entirely to this scene so you'll probably see something if you watch long enough. It's really rather amazing.

Once you get past the whole "flesh eating zombie panda" thing...



Anonymous said...

Uh-oh, I said "Awwww!" But it was at the mommy panda, not the stick of butter. Honest.

Karen said...

Gives new meaning to "a face only a mother could love".

Would you give us a little review of your new Wii game and remote? At our house we were recently sucked into the Wii (we have Wii Sports, Wii Play and Wii Fit) and the new game and remote look very fun.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures--sooo sweet-- the mother love thing. I am sure the baby will be adorable when it is a little older.

I have to confess to being almost as hooked by Penguins. I never thought to look for Penguin cams. Shame on you, as if I don't have enough other distractions.

Yarnhog said...


I live in San Diego and was dragged to the zoo every weekend as a child. By high school, I was cutting class to go on my own. Now I regularly drag my kids there. I love everything about the zoo: the animals, the plants, the walking, the fresh air...everything.

But even I think pandas are unbearably boring. They. do. nothing. We usually pass right by their exhibit with its ridiculously long lines of people waiting to stare at the black and white still life. As for the panda cam...well, at least there's no line, right?

Kath said...

Awww...I feel sorta sorry for the nekkid little thing. It looks chilly too. But I'm sure it will look much cuter in another month so when it has hair!

I'm guessing you've seen the sneezing baby panda video on youtube? If not, it's a must.

Elaine said...

Just a word of appreciation! The lengths some bloggers will go to keep their readers happy. You definitely need a rest. Thank you.

trek said...

There is a disturbing similarity between that chin blob and the naked mole rat. Or even white lab rat.

Panda Cam - what a wonderful thing!