Give pandas a break from excessive livestream cameras

By Duo Mu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/30 22:58:39

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 profits, 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 filming 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 profits, 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 efforts 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 benefits, which is a basic principle of modern society. Those who seek to commercialize endangered animals just to make a fast buck should be stopped.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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