Readers’ Blog

The Panda and the Alligator at the Zoo, a Reflection on Diplomacy

Popularity 5Viewed 17233 times 2013-8-6 08:19 |System category:Life| Panda, Alligator, China, National, Zoo

The family and I went to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. this weekend, taking advantage of the free admission and a decent day of weather to explore the many exhibits.  The main exhibit is the Pandas, with various amounts of Panda themed venues inside and outside of the zoo, selling everything and anything with a black, white, and cute motif.  Further ratcheting up the hype is the discussions if the female Panda is pregnant or not.  So now people are flocking from near and wide to the Panda enclosure, with the eager anticipation getting a glimpse of the female Panda.  Much to their disappointment, they only get to see the female from a bank of television displays – but the male Panda was more than available to lounge around with a stalk of bamboo, to be fawned over by ever-crushing amount of people in a very, very small amount of space.


During the many attempts to elbow for enough room for the kids to see the Panda, my asked me if these were ‘gifts’ from the Chinese government.  I shrugged my shoulders in trying to remember the details, given the various hype over the years about various zoos around the world and Pandas.  Honestly, it was hard to think with the massive amount of people all trying to politely trying to knock each out of the way, and all in such a “quiet manner”.  All the visitors had to be silent as possible, as not to stress out the female Panda.  If that were going to be plan, then it would have been better to close the whole exhibit.  However, when it is the zoo’s “cash cow” exhibit, interesting compromises are made, such as shoving twice as many people into half as available space, with only entrance/exit.


Exhausted from that endeavor, we wandered a bit through other exhibits until we were behind the reptile house and near the invertebrate exhibits.  There, by the Komodo Dragon enclosure, we found a very quiet and serene location to take a break, eat some snacks, and reflect on the day’s travels.  It was in this location that we spied upon the Chinese Alligator display.  We looked at the creature, who for all accounts is part of a species that is ever more rare than the Pandas – given their usual territory in China is where the Chinese River Dolphin has but been declared extinct.  Yet, here it was, safe and appearing to look at ease in its enclosure, at a zoo that has been famous for breeding all sorts of animals in captivity, big and small.  Again, my wife asked if this creature to was a gift, but I had no answer at the time.  However, given the location, and the lack of real people traffic, I had to time to ponder about the art of diplomacy involving China, for the contrasts were striking.


‘Panda Diplomacy’ has been a rather showy affair over the last couple of decades, with the pomp and show of ‘something important’ for brief moments of time.  Yet, over time, it has developed the sound of  ‘white noise’ in the cultural background, appearing a bit shallow and becoming more monetarily hollow.  ‘Alligator Diplomacy’ has been more of a quiet approach, with little fanfare or notice.  Its goals are long term and may not be showy as others, but they have been vital nonetheless.  Moreover, has been within that ‘serene obscurity’ that great many things have and can be accomplished, with no burden or stigma of inflated expected expectations and/or profit margins.  


So, if you are in the Washington D.C. area, take some time to see the National Zoo.  If nothing else, it is free admission.  You will not be disappointed in the wide variety of wonderful creatures from around the world, including China.  Depending on the time of the day, month, or year – the Panda exhibit may not be as busy as it was for my family and I, so you may be lucky to get a glimpse at what all of the hype has been all about.  However, if you are visiting during the summer, and you are by the Komodo Enclosure, you will find a place for reflection and peace under the watchful eye of a rare and interesting creature.  It is truly a sight to behold and to appreciate, in quiet manner.

Panda Exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Pregnant Panda?

Lots of Monitors for the "Big Event"

A lot a fuss to see only one Panda

Another, less known, Chinese Creature at the National Zoo

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (3 Person)

Like 0 Share


Comment Comment (4 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2013-8-7 10:23
This has been recommended to the front page. Thanks for writing.
Reply Report tradervic 2013-8-15 04:57
Voice_CD, how does any blogger really find out if their blog made to the front page or not, once it has been recommended?
Reply Report HailChina! 2013-12-31 19:43
I am very interested in the Chinese alligator. I saw a show about them on CCTV. I would like to come and see one some day.
Reply Report tradervic 2014-1-1 15:12
HailChina!: I am very interested in the Chinese alligator. I saw a show about them on CCTV. I would like to come and see one some day.
More power to you in that endeavor.

facelist doodle Doodle board

You need to login to comment Login | register


China's Eccentric 'Uncle Laowai' from Chicago, IL


Recent comments

Star blogger










Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email:
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.