Saturday, September 8, 2007


As promised in yesterday’s Blog, there was “Pandamonium” in the U.S. camp today. After training in the late morning, the U.S. team returned to the hotel, had lunch, and then boarded the bus for Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center, located not far from downtown where the team is based. Rarely has a team excursion generated as much excitement among the players, especially Leslie Osborne, as saying she loves pandas is a bit of an understatement. She LOVES pandas. (Perhaps, even more so than cheese, which is saying a lot about the Wisconsin native). And what’s not to love? They are adorable, ancient, mythical, cuddly, furry, playful and very, very rare. The U.S. team stopped first at Panda Kindergarten enclosure, where eight one-year-old pandas wrestled, climbed and generally made like kindergarteners, just yards from the players. The U.S. players then got to actually pet a live panda! There are few places in the world where you can do that, but every one of the players came out feeling thrilled to have had the experience. Then it was onto the panda nursery where some of the most precious little pandas you could possibly imagine were sleeping. We don’t have any pics as photography was not allowed, but trust us when we say, “isn’t that the cutest whittle panda wanda in the world!” They had a one-month old panda and few that were even younger. In the wild, Pandas can often have twins, but a mom can only take care of one, so the other often dies. Not at the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. They take the twin and raise it to adulthood. There are 68 pandas at the Center and only about 1,600 left in the wild. Pandas weigh just a few ounces at birth, but males reach 250 pounds and females 220. Those are big bears. As much as Osborne wanted to take one home, she’ll have to be satisfied with the stuffed animal baby panda that she bought and hugged for most of the bus ride back. I think we’ve answered the question posed by Jim Halpert (while imitating Dwight Schrute) on NBC’s “The Office” when he asked, “Which bears are best?” Well, panda bears of course.

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