Pandagate: BBC names Tian Tian a Face of the Year

The BBC is in trouble with feminists for choosing a panda named Tian Tian as one of 12 female Faces of the Year. Critics say the pick deprecated female achievement in 2011. The hashtag #pandagate is now trending on twitter, as well as the #realwomenoftheyear tag, meant to counter the Beeb’s list.

Tian Tian, or Sweetie in English, lives at the Edinburgh Zoo. Pandas, an endangered species, are star attractions at zoos all over the world. But they cannot be owned, only loaned from the Chinese government.

Apart from being adorable, however, pandas are pretty much useless. Pandas are relatives of bears who evolved to become vegetarian. However, they are so inefficient at digesting bamboo, their only food source, that they must eat nine hours a day to get the energy they need to survive. The rest of the time, they are probably sleeping. Pandas are also notoriously uninterested in sex for the most part. In short, it’s no accident that they are one of the world’s most endangered animals despite the massive effort exerted to conserve them.

Are pandas so cute they must be saved, or should we just let evolution take its course and let them go extinct?


  • Martin

    Pandas are useless because they look cute, are supposedly indifferent to sex and only survive because humans find them adorable.

    Presumably then the nma weather girls are also useless. :)

    • richard wills

      Sorry Martin,

      But I have to disagree with your assumption as to the “functional value”
      of the Panda genome.

      Consider, the horrendous climatic events and ecological disasters that have
      occurred over the last few million years. That trapped the ancestral pandas
      in a comparatively narrow biological zone. And forcedly evolved them away
      from the proto-ursine archetype.

      This makes them a very useful test bed for genetic archeology and for that
      matter a broad range of other genetic research studies. Since they inhabit
      a limited natural ecology, to safeguard the species for present and future
      research, they need special protection.

      That is where the public’s perception of the animal as cuddly and adorable
      plays a very important role. I know that scientists and engineers become
      annoyed at the constant need to manipulate public opinion to gain and
      maintain public funding of important projects, but suck it up fellows! You want
      the bucks, their hearts and minds must follow.

      When you see those pretty pictures produced for astronomical research, you
      need to keep it in perspective that the point of the research was NOT to produce
      pretty pictures. Those lovely images actually convey relevant data. AND,
      entice enough of the public to financially support the research efforts.