no coup de foudre
October 2, 2006
Forget about the coup, the main concern in northern Thailand at the moment is whether Chiang Mai Zoo’s panda couple will mate. Several “breeding strategies” have already been tried, unsuccessfully. Several hours of panda porn videos showing various forms of explicit panda sex failed to interest either Chuang-Chuang (‘Clever’) or Lin-Hui (Beautiful Forest), though they were reportedly quite a hit with visitors, especially Chinese tourists for whom such graphic sex education is forbidden. (You can see a typical selection here if you’re that interested). Not surprisingly, neither Barry White ‘singing’ “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” nor endless Kenny G tracks caused even the faintest glimmer in those panda eyes. The 1001 Chinese aphrodisiacs were all considered but their use rejected since pandas can’t eat anything except bamboo. I fear that this is an undertaking in which our new military junta is destined to fail. Finding an untainted politician, rustling up a new constitution- no sweat, but persuading a couple of wooly bears to procreate is probably beyond what most military juntas can deal with. I suspect that even our own golden boy, Master David, with his rays of sunshine might think that raising taxes would come easier than this. After all, female pandas can conceive just once a year, for only three days. Most mating attempts last around 21 seconds and first attempts are rarely successful . Not surprisingly, “for long periods, more than 60 percent of adult male giant pandas in protection areas or zoos lack any sexual desire. Only 10 percent of them are capable of natural mating.” Many male pandas need training, as they seem indifferent to the overtures of the females. I think it’s fair to say that your average panda is much less obsessed with sexual activity than we humans in spite of the speculation regarding the sexual orientation of Chuang-Chuang. Now the Chiang Mai Mail reports that “A team of expert veterinarians have taken their cue from a maxim of human behaviour that has been commented on for centuries by romantic novelists and poets: passion requires mystery. The new “breeding strategy” will separate the pair from each other in such a way that, although they will still be able to hear and smell each other, they will not be able to come into physical contact. The theory being that their separation will drive the pair into a hormonally induced sexual frenzy that will produce positive results once they are allowed physical contact with each other, rather than the mundane proximity that the pair live through at the moment.” If that succeeds I shall be most disappointed. I was looking to pandas to maintain higher moral standards than those of humans.