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That Buttery Goodness Doesn't Come Cheap

pandas.jpg

We feel guilty covering Butterstick -- and pandas more generally, such as Zoo Atlanta's Yang Yang and Lun Lun, shown above -- in the absence of a news hook. But now the New York Times has absolved us of guilt, with an article whose twee title -- "Eats Shoots, Leaves, and Much of Zoos' Budgets" -- belies its hard-hitting nature.


The Times piece focuses on the high fees that American zoos must pay to the Chinese government to rent giant pandas. Yang Yang and Lun Lun, for example, earn $2 million a year for their government. And who knows how much they could rake in if they had a good agent?

What justifies these exorbitant fees? The Times explains:

Giant pandas are indisputably popular. Two months ago, the public snapped up 13,000 tickets to see Tai Shan, born at the National Zoo in Washington last July, in just two hours. Later that day the free tickets were being traded on eBay for as much as $200 each.

[W]hen people cannot make it through the gates, self-described pandaholics blog with doe-eyed ardor about the bears or stay glued to the zoos' panda Web cams.

The Times piece raises an interesting question: Is our national obsession with pandas leading us to subsidize an oppressive regime?

Addiction to oil? What a joke! Here's the real question: Is the United States "addicted to pandas"?

Eats Shoots, Leaves, and Much of Zoos' Budgets [NYT]

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