The narration was done by David Tennant and the subject matter of the documentary was about pandas – a dream combination if ever there was one.
My experience of zoos is limited. I can notch up a couple of safari parks and a wild life park with a small selection of not very exotic animals (apart from Kangaroos) but zoos are a bit of a mystery. I have never really lived anywhere that has had a zoo. I lived in Cyprus for a few years and there was a zoo but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Not much had been done to create habitats for the animals that mimicked their natural environment. The animals didn’t look happy and contented, but rather distressed.
That was not the case for the two pandas that took up residence at Edinburgh Zoo. I never appreciated the amount of preparation involved. I knew that they had to build something special for the pandas, but it never occurred to me to wonder where they would get all the bamboo shoots from.
There’s a joke doing the rounds, that absolutely delights my husband, that there are more pandas in Scotland now than there are Conservative Members of Parliament.
Somewhere between the weeks spent being trained to look after pandas in China and the specially chartered Fex-Ex plane touching down on the runway in Edinburgh (and all the panda merchandise in the zoo shop)a thought occurred to me. I know it is good to look after the planet, and do something to stop pandas from becoming extinct – but if only the same care was given to looking after people!
I know that pandas can’t really look after themselves and they are really cute and cuddly looking and they are an endangered species with only a thousand or so in the wild, and people can look after themselves and very few of them are cute and cuddly and they are far from being extinct but it does seem out of balance.
The government hasn’t been given the pandas, or even bought them. We are just renting them for a few years. Lots of money has been spent on bringing them here and training people to look after them and feed them.
It seems a bit unfair to spend so much on a couple of animals, cute as they are, while at the same time clawing back money from the welfare system and pushing a huge percentage of people into poverty and debt.
To think that I rate lower than a panda in the scheme of things doesn’t bring me much comfort.
I’d like to be a panda
With fur that’s black and white
So when I lose my habitat
You’ll step in, make things right
You’ll scour the towns and hamlets
And bring me things to eat
And build a lovely home for me
A tranquil, calm retreat
My every need provided
My comfort guaranteed
So petted and so pampered
A favoured life indeed
But I am not a panda
I’m just a quiet soul
Lacking those essential things
That make a person whole
My job pays peanut wages
My home a soulless box
I cannot pay the fuel bills so
I’m wearing thermal socks
The fridge is all but empty
The cupboards almost bare
I look upon the panda and
And I think it isn’t fair!