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China Economic Review
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Henry Nicholls

The Way of the Panda

The giant panda is an iconic animal, but a century and a half ago it was barely known - bordering on a mythical creature. In The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal Henry Nicholls tells its story.

After the giant panda became known in the west there was considerable interest in such a novel animal. At first, of course, hunters wanted to shoot one and display the skin, but we hear about how attitudes gradually changed, as zoos saw the great benefits of having live animals. In particular the popularity of baby pandas meant that there were frequent attempts to breed pandas in captivity, with little success at first, but more recently sufficiently well to maintain a sustainable captive population. There are still problems ahead though - the difficulty of finding pandas in the wild makes it hard to know how many are left. One panda which was reintroduced into the wild was found dead a few days later - not encouraging.

There's the question of whether the giant panda should be classified a bear - something which has generated a lot of arguments. Nicholls also tells of the politics of pandas - the Chinese government soon realised the diplomatic potential of giving pandas to foreign zoos. In conclusion, it's an informative book about a unique animal, and I would recommend it to as an entertaining read for anyone.






Product Description
This title deals with the extraordinary impact of the panda - from obscurity to fame - a story of China's transition from shy beginnings to centre stage. In a most original book, science writer Henry Nicholls uses the rich and curious story of the panda from its 'discovery' 150 years ago in the highlands of China to its present international status as endearing icon of the World Wide Fund for Nature (fifty years old in 2011) and shy darling of the world's zoos to do several things - to chart the emergence of modern China onto the global stage; to examine our changing attitude to the natural world; and, to offer a compelling history of the conservation movement.