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Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker; Chairman of Gingrich 360

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Despite the joy they brought, the pandas are back in China

Nov 29, 2023

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China recently recalled all panda bears from U.S. zoos, following years of rising tensions between the two nations. The panda bear is an iconic symbol of China and Chinese culture.

Straight Arrow News contributor Newt Gingrich observes that this is devastating to all Americans who find panda bears cute, cuddly and adorable. The only upside, Gingrich concedes, is that these adorable bears are at least returning to their native habitat, where their favorite food — bamboo — grows in abundance.

So, the Chinese Communists have set aside a pretty good amount of land around Chengdu in the area where this particular kind of bamboo grows. And one of the great challenges when pandas started to go around the world [is they are] always on loan, [the] Chinese never give them away. They loan them under very strict rules, and if the pandas end up having a baby, the baby belongs technically to China and has to ultimately be returned to China.

And everywhere they go — I’ve seen them, for example, in the San Diego Zoo, the Atlanta Zoo, the National Zoo — you always have this huge complicated program to make sure you can get enough bamboo. And so in almost every case, they have a local farmer who is raising an amazing amount of bamboo, because these bears can sit and eat a lot of bamboo. They’re not getting very much nutrition out of each bite, but they’re taking a lot of bites.

So, it’s with regret that they’re going back home. On the other hand, it is going back home, and I hope maybe later on — when things stall out and we get to a better relationship — that they may once again loan the National Zoo some pandas. And I promise you, if you ever get a chance to go and see a giant panda, you ought to do it. You’ll find yourself smiling, you’ll wonder why you liked this thing so much. But it is very cool — and there’s nothing quite like the giant pandas.

I have a certain sadness for the three giant pandas being returned to China, from the National Zoo in Washington. You know, pandas first came to Washington as a diplomatic gesture. When President Nixon opened the door to relationships with China in 1972. The Chinese Communist by way of saying thank you, loaned to panda bears to the National Zoo, firsthand had been on display outside of China, and is, by the way, and I did a podcast and it’s a while back with the director of the zoo. Pandas literally make people happy when you see them, even if you’re seeing a panda bear toy, there’s something about their face. There’s something about their Roly Poly body, that people just smile, they can’t help themselves. When the Atlanta zoo got pandas a few years back, and my granddaughter Maggie was about four, I got her a giant panda bigger than she was. And to this day, she’s now two years out of college. She still has in her bedroom, this giant panda. And I’m sure when she looks at it, she smiles. So the Chinese kindness for sending us their happiest product. He knew at the time they were very endangered. And I have to say the well I am deeply opposed to the dictatorship. They have done a good job around the city of Chengdu in conservation policy. You see, the pen is very unusual. It grew up in an area where it’s only basic food is one particular kind of bamboo. And the bamboo does not is not very healthy immune, you don’t get a lot of calories out of it. So they have to eat huge amounts of bamboo, which is why they have this Roly Poly characteristic. And pandas will spend most of the day either eating bamboo or sleeping. And normally they have no natural predators except maybe Tiger’s eye, but most of the time, nobody bothers them. So they need this happy life. They wake up in the morning, they go find some bamboo, they eat it, and then they sleep for a while whether digesting it, and then they wake up and they go find some more bamboo. That is the life of a panda. And the Chinese Communist have actually done a very good job of setting up preservation programs. And the great danger has been deforestation, that if people come along and cut down all the bamboo so they can build houses or buildings or factories. Now communicate pandas. So the Chinese Communist have set aside a pretty good amount of land, around Chengdu in the area where this particular kind of bamboo grows. And one of the great challenges when pandas started to go around the world and be always unload, Chinese never give them away. They loan them under very strict rules. And if the pandas end up having a baby, the baby belongs technically to China, and has to only be returned to China. And everywhere they go, if you I’ve seen him, for example, the San Diego Zoo, the Atlanta zoo, the National Zoo, you always have this huge complicated program to make sure you can get enough bamboo. And so in almost every case, they have a local farmer who was raising an amazing amount of bamboo. Because these bears can sit and eat a lot of bamboo. They’re not getting very much nutrition out of each bite, but they’re taking a lot of bites. So it’s with regret that they’re going back home. On the other hand, it is going back home. And I hope maybe later on when things stall out and we get to a better relationship that they may once again, clone the National Zoo, some pandas and I promise you, if you ever get a chance to go and see a giant pandas, you ought to do it. You’ll find yourself smiling. You’ll wonder why you liked this thing so much. But it is very cool. And there’s nothing quite like the giant pandas.

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