Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?
I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Chuck Has Almost Meet with Chinese Panda Bear
I know what you’re thinking.
I’m sure that after you read the title--Chinese Panda Bear--you have to be asking yourself--did the Chinese Panda Bear fly here to the states or did Chuck fly to China??
This was not one of Chuck’s finer moments.
He did not enjoy being stuffed into my carryon for fifteen hours (all the air deflated out of him) as we flew non-stop across the oceans and over the top of the world to a place where people use chopsticks rather than forks and knives.
What induced Chuck to even consider the grueling journey was the thought of meeting what I would consider one of the great wonders of the world--at least of the animal world--the giant panda bear.
Chuck had only seen one panda before--at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and if you remember that incident, he jumped into the panda’s den area and tried to instigate a show down. This time, we had a long talk before we arrived at the Beijing Zoo. There would be no jumping into the den area. Not at the Beijing Zoo. Not in China. Not in this particular tense political climate.
The Chuckster would have to be content with watching the panda bear from afar.
But that was okay with him.
The panda bear from any distance is mesmerizing.
At the Beijing Zoo, there are signs everywhere announcing the existence of the panda bear. When we first spot him, he is not doing much of anything, but we were warned he might be sleeping or resting.
I took this opportunity, as we were gazing at the panda through the glass, to tell Chuck the top five interesting facts about panda bears:
1. 99% of a panda’s diet is bamboo--a diet heavy in protein.
Pandas will also eat honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, bananas, etc.
2. Panda bears live in the lowland areas of Sichuan Province in China. It is estimated that approximately 1590 pandas live in the wild as compared to 239 bears who live in captivity.
3. Male panda bears can weigh up to 350 pounds. Females can weigh up to 280 pounds. But when born, a baby panda weighs only 3 1/2 to 7 ounces.
4. Pandas are solitary animals. After a baby is born, the father panda leaves the mother to raise the panda on her own.
5. Panda bears live approximately 30 years in captivity and 20 years in the wild. Ming Ming, in captivity, lived to be 34 years old.
When I’m finished, I knew that I hadn’t answered the one question on Chuckie’s mind.
“No,” I said, “there is no record of a Panda ever attacking and eating a cat.”
Chuck sighed in relief.
“You don’t taste like bamboo,” I added to reassure him. “Plus panda bears are not aggressive by nature. They only attack someone or something who annoys them.”
At this time, the panda bear finally got up and went over to the door that led to the outside area. With his back to us, he stood there on his hind legs for at least ten minutes, facing outside. What was he thinking?
Finally, he wandered outside, and Chuck and I scooted out of the building so we could see what he was up to.
And I knew what Chuck was thinking. And hoping. He wanted to meet Mr. Panda. He wanted that panda bear to wander over to where we were standing. He wanted that bear to acknowledge us in some way. A friendly wave. A giant nod of his head. Something. Anything.
Chuck has no patience.
I was fascinated just watching the panda move.
Chuck was not.
Then it happened.
I had come to this exhibit with no expectations.
Chuck had come expecting everything.
Suddenly, the panda grabbed a bamboo branch and started eating it.
And eating it. And eating it.
I guess when pandas weigh hundreds of pounds, they need a lot of bamboo to feel satisfied. It takes them a long time to eat enough bamboo to fill their bellies.
I pulled out my iphone and started videotaping the panda eating the bamboo.
What a wonderful thing to watch.
Chuck began to get restless.
“Can you wait?” I shouted out.
But Chuck figured that panda could be sitting there for hours eating that bamboo.
I clicked off my iphone, ended the videotape, and glared at Chuck.
“You are the biggest baby.”
He glared back at me, impatience all over his face.
I mean it.
It was time to leave. I took one last look at the panda eating the bamboo. WOW. You don’t see this in the states everyday. WOW.
To see some remarkable video of the panda eating bamboo, log onto www.katelutter.com and click on the link on my homepage that will take you to my You Tube video. Enjoy!