Saturday, August 29, 2020

Still Life with Robin: In Defense of Cub Cuteness


by Peggy Robin  

With all the things to be outraged about in the world today, trust me to find the most trivial one possible, and play it for all its worth. Here's what has my back up today: Some cockamamy reporter over at WAMU/DCist, going by the name of Colleen Grablick, has written that our new baby panda is not cute. In fact, she says it’s something you need to “brace yourself” to see. (See article.)   

Not Cute???!!!!   

Let me school you, Colleen: A baby panda is the very definition of cuteness. It meets all the tests:  

Small. Check.
Wiggly. Check. 
Pink. Check.
Funny little face. Well, just look at this!   

And it makes these unbelievably cute squeals -- the kind you expect would come from a much bigger but still adorable animal, like, say, a scampering piglet:  

With its helpless, flailing movements, how you could you NOT want to pick it up and cuddle it? (Colleen, I'm talking to you!). Which of course is what is making Mei Xiang do her mothering thing so well -- just as she's done successfully with her three previous cubs.  

For all the proof you need, watch this Zoo footage of the cub on Day 7:   

Yet Ms. Grablick points to this newborn "in its fur-less, screaming glory," and says that its “screeches” are “reminiscent of a car’s windshield-wipers scraping against dry glass, or acrylic nails dragging across a chalkboard". 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not the first time DCist has dissed our newborn panda. They did it to Mei Xiang's previous cub, Bei Bei, in 2015, when DCist's then Associate Editor Rachel Sadon sniffed that he “looks like a knock-off stuffed animal.”  See:   

What is WRONG with these people!!!??   

Is it just to be contrarian? I get not wanting to love Mom and Apple Pie, but I have to draw the line at slamming a baby panda for its looks. There are so few of them in the world. And really, objectively, they ARE CUTE!  

I call upon this Listserv to help me make the case. WAMU/DCist has actually put this question to a vote!  

Here in DC, we don’t get to vote on much….but let’s all get on top of this issue and register our support for the cuteness of our baby panda!   

Vote here:     

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the poll. No need to worry about the safety of your ballot! And I'm sure Mei Xiang and Tian Tian would thank you for your support!


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

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