Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Giant Panda

Officially speaking, there's no such thing as a panda.  The animal that you were certainly picturing when I blew your mind just then is actually known as the "giant panda."  Giant?  Really?  I mean, granted... they're pretty big.  It would take a few minutes and some clever packing to squeeze one into your carry-on, but "giant" may be a bit of an over-sell for a bear that tops out at between 200 and 250 pounds.  That weight range may qualify something to be a giant chipmunk, a giant toad, or a giant bacon cheeseburger, but we're talking about a bear here.  For the sake of comparison, the Kodiak bear can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, and that's just the basic, non-giant Kodiak.  I feel like we're potentially disappointing zoo-goers and cheapening the word "giant" with this misleading terminology.  It's troubling.

I did a little research into the matter and learned that the term "giant panda" is meant to distinguish this bear from the completely non-related red panda.  Non-related?  Why did we use the word "panda" for two non-related animals?  Was every other possible word already taken?  Because I just Googled "shormshoo" and nothing came up.  It's not being used for anything.  And there are hundreds of other words just like it that, though stupid, could easily be attached to something like a reddish, raccoon-sized thing or a not-so-giant bear.  Non-related animals should have non-related names.

I don't mean to suggest that we should start randomly changing the established names of existing animals.  That would get confusing.  Obviously the better solution is to force the world's entire populations of giant pandas and red pandas into a coliseum-style battle to the death... the winning species becoming the sole heir of the coveted title of "panda."  If you're the gambling type, you would be wise to bet against the little red raccoons, because these bears are freaking giants!