Feature

Death to pandas?

British naturalist Chris Packham creates a stir by saying we should save other species and let pandas go extinct

"Poor Yang Yang and Kou Kou and Lun Lun," said Britain's The Independent. BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham told Radio Times magazine Monday that while we spend a fortune trying to save the giant panda, largely because it's cute, the money would be better invested helping other species. He said the panda has "gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac" and "I reckon we should pull the plug."

"Well, that's wretched, although there are maybe a few grains of validity here," said Bradford Plumer in The New Republic. "It's true that our efforts to save endangered species tend to place too much emphasis on charismatic megafauna like pandas and bald eagles and sea turtles, while homelier strains of beetle or mussel get little love." But "the panda's spectacularly cute and incredibly popular, and it's not like the World Wildlife Federation could fundraise just as much money with pleas to save the pink-tailed worm lizard."

Chris Packham is being vilified for having the courage to speak the truth, said James Kirkup in Britain's Telegraph. "Pandas are pointless, wasteful, and silly. They should die." Conservationists insist pandas are victims because industrialization is killing the "precious bamboo" forests they need to survive—but other species cope "with a changing world without going bleating to the WWF. This is evolution: Adapt or die. Being cute and fluffy doesn’t give you any special rights, fatso."

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