Giant pandas have been stealing the hearts of Americans ever since the first two were given to the U.S. when Richard Nixon was president, in 1972. They were a symbol of friendship from China that was meant to strengthen the bond between our countries. What nobody knew was that those two loveable pandas would do something to our hearts that could never be reversed. They drew us in with their adorable nature and have gotten a firm hold on our affections. Those first two were our gateway into the world of giant pandas.
Why is it that when we see giant pandas we turn into mush and want to talk to them in a baby voice? Well neuroscientists think they have it all figured out. They believe that we can’t resist the cuteness of pandas because their round cheeks, big eyes and wobbly walk stimulates the circuitry in our brains that normally is awakened when we see infants of our own kind. They encite the same feelings in us that we feel when we see a baby with big eyes and squishy cheeks wobble by.
The black spots around a pandas eyes are meant as a self defense to keep predators away, but it doesn’t work so well against humans. In our eyes it gives them that big doe-eyed appearance that makes us want to give them a big bear hug. Or maybe it’s how they clumsily manipulate objects that delight us so much. They are one of the only animals that have flexible wrist bones.
These fluffy black and white bears are loved by so many, yet there are so few of them. Sadly, they are an endangered species. I hope there will never be a day when the earth loses its pandas. I don’t think any of us will ever be ready for that.