How a Panda Made a Friend

Recently I was inspired by my students to visit our free national zoo in Washington after teaching an art project on animals and natural versus unnatural habitats. Students depicted pandas surrounded by bamboo in China and also in foreign zoos, which led to great discussions about scientists around the world learning more about the animal’s biology and helping with conservation and China’s  history of loaning pandas as ambassadors since 685 AD. When asked by my students if I ever saw a panda, I realized I hadn’t and took up the challenge. (I have more photos as proof!) An endangered species, giant pandas only number approximately 1,600 in the wild. Though large (as they normally weigh 90 to 115 kilograms) and with claws, they are cuddly looking in person, nimble with their hands and are the animal that symbolizes for the Chinese a more peaceful and harmonious world. This photo was taken of me by a special education teacher named Joy who I met while we were both looking for the pandas. Joy lives in Canada and is currently teaching in Washington D. C. It was delightful to talk with her; she studies teaching methods in her birth home of Singapore and compares best teaching practices from many cultures. She taught her students about the environmental impact plants can have on animals as Pandas depend on Bamboo as their sole food source.  We both were so excited to see the subject of our lessons, each for the first time.  Next year we will have students sculpt pandas!

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