Monday, April 23, 2012

Ancient Chinese Costumes

by Drew Martin
I saw a picture today in the May/June 2012 issue of Sierra magazine of a cute panda cub being cuddled by humans wearing panda costumes. The panda humans are disguised employees of the mountainous Wolong Nature Reserve in Southwest China's Sichuan province. They dress up to minimize the impact of their intervention with the cubs, who are born in captivity. Even so, I would think any cub with such parents is going to have some social issues when he is introduced back to the wild. Previous attempts have had fatal consequences when the newcomer is rejected by dominant males. My heart goes out to these cubs but at the same time I can appreciate the pure performance value of these biologists who look more like Teletubbies than pandas. If I combine two of my past odd jobs, I totally qualify for this job: I worked in a zoo in Europe for half a year where I fed and cleaned up after animals from all over the world and I also once dressed up as a Pound Puppy for the opening of a warehouse-style home improvement store during a summer in New Jersey. The former employment was the most interesting work I have ever had, the latter, not so much. I stumbled around in the summer sun tripping over little kids. I could barely see through the little screen eyes in the front of my big, furry head and the temperature inside the costume was unbearable.