Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Don't say no to pandas

By J. Ronald Buttercam

I agree wholeheartedly with Thor McGillacuddy (Letters, Jan. 9) on bringing over China's pandas and renaming them. There are nay-sayers who claim that taking these cuddly friends would be "against" sound cross-strait diplomacy or sound environmental policy. Let's put these straw men to rest.

First, the sending of pandas is the ultimate diplomatic compliment from the Beijing government. Does Beijing conduct diplomacy with governments it does not recognize? No. Does Beijing send pandas to governments it does not like? Again the answer is, of course, no. After years of sour threats from Beijing, does it really make sense to ignore friendlier overtures? Of course not. Let China send pandas to us so long as they do not send us missiles.

Second, it is simply junk science to argue that pandas should not come on ecological grounds.

The as-yet unnamed pandas were born and raised in captivity and are completely unprepared for life in the wild, where they would starve to death. Lame arguments are sometimes raised that these are non-native species. The fact that Taiwan doesn't have pandas of its own is precisely why they are an attraction. People don't go to zoos to see common animals like squirrels, dogs and kittens; they go for the exotic lions, tigers and elephants.

These pandas would serve as a tangible reminder to the Taiwanese people and hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists of the importance of preserving habitats around the world.

Let's not let emotion get in the way of sound cross-strait and environmental policy. As has already been correctly suggested, no matter what China calls the pandas, we can give them our own names upon arrival.

J. Ronald Buttercam

Taipei

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