Friday, January 10, 2014

,

The Formosan Black Bear is cute, too!

1/10/2014 Taiwan Explorer
There's a big media circus in Taiwan surrounding the Taiwan born panda cub Yuanzai, and her recent debut in the Taipei Zoo. Over 12,000 visitors came to see this cute little bear on her first day, local and international media was reporting on it like it was the biggest event of the year. There's no doubt that the cub is adorable, and the fact that it belongs to an endangered species makes it that much more interesting to the general public. But we have to keep one thing in mind: Chinese communists are using pandas for propaganda purposes (read about panda diplomacy). Usually pandas are lent (rented?) to other countries as a "gesture of good diplomatic relations" (which precludes any recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign independent country), and pandas born in other countries belong to China, too. But since the communists consider Taiwan merely a Chinese province, and the panda transfer an internal matter, little Yuanzai and her parents don't need to be returned. This is quite a tricky bilateral situation with wider political implications, and it should not be taken lightly. Meanwhile there's a little counter movement on Taiwan's social media: The photo above was making the rounds these days on various social platforms. It shows the Formosan Black Bear 台灣黑熊, a native bear of Taiwan (learn more about it here), which is even more endangered than the Giant Panda. The image is accompanied with interesting questions that should make you think. The writing on the left side says: "Am I cute? (I am a Formosan Black Bear baby)". The right side says: "Do you know what is my name? (The media doesn't love me?)".

To learn more about the Formosan Black Bear visit the homepage of the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association and like their Facebook Page.