Pandas World Tour Takes Over Taipei

15 March 2014

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There were a few heads being scratched in the port city of Taipei recently when the streets of the city were invaded by 1600 papier-mâché pandas. However, this delightful sight did not signify an attempt by the black-patched bear to take over the city (in the manner of the Dolphins of Simpsons fame). Rather it is the latest stage in the Pandas World Tour, created by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the plight of endangered animals around our pale blue dot of a planet.

The exhibition – if that is quite what you can call this cornucopia of cuteness – has traveled around the world since 2008. This is the first time, however, that an Asian city has played host to the host as it were. Taipei is the political, economic, and cultural center of Taiwan is very much a global city with a population of over seven million. It is hoped that the pandas will help to raise local awareness on animal conservation issues especially that of the local Formosan black bears, the only bear native to Taiwan and now considered endangered.

Image Credit Flickr User Lesily2
Image Credit Flickr User Lesily2
Image Credit Flickr User Lesily2
The adorable miniature pandas were created especially for the traveling exhibition by Paulo Grangeon. The artist trained in art for five years, then took up work as a sculptor in wood in Europe and California before being employed for twenty years as a designer in wood for an international factory which had exhibitions all over the world. He runs a shop with his wife, Joelle, in Grenoble, France called ‘Matière Première’. However, Grangeon’s panda display has visited more than 20 countries and appeared in front of landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower since its inception in 2008. One can only imagine how busy this has kept him.

Image Credit Flickr User Lesily2
Image Credit Flickr User Shawn.Hsu
Although the Formosan black bears are not on display yet (hopefully not a portent of their fate in the wild) there are one or two other animals to be found dotted around this pride of pandas (there is no collective noun for pandas as they are such solitary animals and are only seen together when preparing to do the Discovery Channel thing.

Image Credit Flickr User Shawn.Hsu
Image Credit Flickr User Shawn.Hsu
Image Credit Flickr User Wilson Sun
Why choose to display exactly 1600 pandas? The terrible shame of that number is this: each of these papier-mâché figures represents one of the estimated world panda population still living in the wild. When you think of it in those terms, all of a sudden the streets of Taipei do not seem so panda-whelmed after all.

Image Credit Flickr User Wilson Sun
First Image Credit Flickr User Lesily2

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