Sunday 6th September: Lesser Panda Love Affair

Went on a trip to the zoo today. Asa Zoo is a fairly mouldy sort of zoo near Hiroshima.

Little E somehow knew that there were “ressapanda” there and after we had had our fill of the fighing apes and the pitiful “frog exhibition” little E went marching down the road with the zoo map in her hand to search them out.

These “ressapanda” were obviously the main attraction at the zoo, and rather like bread in a supermarket, they were located at back. At every fork in the road there was a sign letting us know which way we had to go to find the ressapanda. We didn’t get to them until after lunch, which was a good thing as we got there just in time for “ressapanda no oyatsu”, or “lesser pandas’ afternoon snack”.

Your lesser panda has all the requirements for Japanese kawaii – cute face, bushy tale, nice colouring and as brute beasts go a modicum of intelligence. The latter characteristic enables it to do “cute” things like open doors, stand on its hind legs and look appealing, and take slices of apple out of the zookeeper’s hand.

Whereas many of the other animals at Asa Zoo look a bit on the mangy side and contemplate their confinement with a world-weary lassitude, the red pandas were in excellent condition and full of beans.

While the other four lesser pandas were content to clamber up the zoo-keeper’s trousers to get their slice of apple, one stayed further back and stood up to recieve her share. There was a case of a famous red-panda called Futa-kun who wowed the visitors at Chiba Zoo a couple of years ago with his ability to stand on his hind legs. It seems that he may have a rival.

David Hurley