Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fighting extinction

Reuters reports that, once again, some pandas have failed to mate. The reluctance this species has toward procreating may eventually spell doom for the black-and-white fuzzballs.

Shuan Shuan, 18 and born in Mexico, was flown back from Japan earlier this week, dashing hopes that a far eastern romance might get her pregnant, after attempts to spark chemistry with Beijing-born Ling Ling, 20, fizzled out.

"We couldn't get them to mate," said Mexico City zoo director Rafael Tinajero sadly. [Is it really necessary to include this adverb? What if he had been indifferent? --ed.]

The 1-1/2 year mating mission was part of a worldwide breeding program to try to bring pandas back from the brink of extinction. But Shuan Shuan and Ling Ling
didn't hit it off.

Maybe we are doing the wrong thing to push these animals so hard to reproduce. Maybe we are witnessing natural selection in process. Perhaps the panda was meant to die out. Perhaps it should not survive because it is not the fittest of animals.

But I can hear the admonishments already:
"They're so cute!"
"They're so cuddly!"
"We should save all animals!"
"Especially cute and cuddly ones!"
"After all, that zoo director was so sad when those pandas couldn't mate!"


The pandas seem to be an evolutionary dead-end. And this is not the fault of humans! In fact, we seem to be doing everything in our power to save them and they just don't seem interested in each other!

Should we be expending this much energy on animals that can't (or won't) mate and that can't seem to survive on their own?

I'm inclined to say, No.

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