Give pan­das a break from ex­ces­sive livestream cam­eras

Global Times - - Editorial - By Duo Mu

If peo­ple in other coun­tries know any­thing about China, pan­das will surely top the list. China’s gifts of breed­ing pairs of pan­das to zoos in places like Wash­ing­ton, DC, Ed­in­burgh and most re­cently Ber­lin, have be­come in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar at­trac­tions, en­cour­ag­ing “panda tourism.”

But for those who can’t go in per­son to see the en­dan­gered mam­mal, shows that livestream pan­das have be­come a smash hit. Search for panda livestreams, and you get a lot of links.

Pan­dapia, one such plat­form, has har­vested nearly 1.5 mil­lion yuan ($ 227,550) since it launched its livestream of gi­ant pan­das last De­cem­ber from the Chengdu Research Base of Gi­ant Panda Breed­ing in South­west China’s Sichuan Prov­ince.

Eye­ing huge po­ten­tial profi ts, these panda- based in­dus­tries have be­come very pop­u­lar. Still, pop­u­lar though they are, the pub­lic is start­ing to ask ques­tions about whether these “pan­da­cams” can harm the pan­das’ health, es­pe­cially when they are nurs­ing their cubs.

Ques­tions have been asked be­fore about the con­di­tions that some zoos have kept China’s em­blem­atic an­i­mal in.

Jin Yi, a panda on loan to Zhengzhou Zoo, died un­ex­pect­edly in Fe­bru­ary 2014. In Fe­bru­ary of this year, Shu­lan, a panda at Lanzhou Zoo, was sus­pected of be­ing abused. The pub­lic’s at­ten­tion is be­ing drawn to whether there is ex­ces­sive com­mer­cial­iza­tion of pan­das.

These livestream­ing plat­forms, suc­cess­ful as they are in bring­ing an up- close look at their lives, could be harm­ful for pan­das, es­pe­cially if the fi lm­ing is in­tru­sive, or the op­er­a­tors are not pro­fes­sional in the way they in­stall and man­age the sys­tems.

What’s worse, some zoos, to boost their profi ts, force pan­das to pose for the cam­eras or to “per­form” for livestreams for lengthy pe­ri­ods of time.

As a na­tional trea­sure, the panda rep­re­sents China’s na­tional im­age abroad, but this hasn’t stopped peo­ple from tak­ing ad­van­tage of their pop­u­lar­ity.

China’s eff orts in pro­tect­ing and breed­ing this en­dan­gered crea­ture have started to pay off , and the world is notic­ing its suc­cess. But pro­tect­ing pan­das must also mean dis­tanc­ing them from ex­ces­sive com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

And while we fo­cus nat­u­rally on the panda, a “charis­matic” an­i­mal, we can use this op­por­tu­nity to pay at­ten­tion to the ex­ces­sive ex­ploita­tion to other an­i­mals kept in cap­tiv­ity. Zoos are still hold­ing an­i­mal per­for­mances, de­spite dan­gers to the an­i­mals, their keep­ers, and even the pub­lic.

Just this month, dur­ing a circus show at a theater in Yingkou, Liaoning Prov­ince, a tiger pounced on its han­dler, who beat the big cat in re­sponse. The theater later said that the in­ci­dent was caused as the tiger was too fa­tigued.

An­i­mals de­serve bet­ter pro­tec­tion, and should not be a tool for gain­ing com­mer­cial benefi ts, which is a ba­sic prin­ci­ple of mod­ern so­ci­ety. Those who seek to com­mer­cial­ize en­dan­gered an­i­mals just to make a fast buck should be stopped.

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