Sleeping Giants - Panda

by Harry Miller February 10, 2020


Panda with bamboo illustration Greetings Card

Written in ‘The Annals of Five Emperors’, during the reign of Emperor Huang, some 4000 years ago, it is said that the mighty ruler would keep Giant Pandas for the purpose of fighting.  In an ancient Chinese legend, again dating back some 4000 years, it tells of how a tribal leader named Huangdi once wielded wild animals to defeat a neighbouring tribe.  Amongst the fearsome animals who bravely went into battle were leopards, tigers… and Pandas!     

Upon seeing this, you may be forgiven for looking at the pandas we have today, lazing about in captivity, stuffing their black and white faces with bamboo, and think what happened to these mighty warriors?  Well, let me tell you, our perception of the cute and cuddly peaceful panda is ill-informed, for they are sleeping giants, and you most certainly do not want to rouse one: as a drunken tourist once found out when he decided to climb into the Beijing Zoo panda enclosure! 

It was September 19th, 2006, when the man in question visited the zoo.  He was very keen on impressing his companion at the time, and upon arriving at the panda enclosure, he came up with the great idea of getting up close and personal with the bear so he could give it a friendly stroke.  

Alas, his drunken love was unrequited, and the panda left the man with a leg that no longer really resembled a leg.  Although they said the ‘wannabe-panda-whisperer’ was very lucky, as it should be noted that the pandas ‘biting force’ is one of the strongest of all mammals: amazingly sitting somewhere between the jaguar and the lion.   

There is evidence that the Ancient Chinese knew of the pandas biting prowess, where according to the writer, Sima Xiangru, during the Han dynasty, some 2000 years ago, Emperor Hanwu kept a giant panda which had teeth so strong it could bite through the metal nails of a city gate.  The panda, then known as Mo, was also known for eating metal cooking utensils left by campers in the wilderness, and for snacking on snakes and reptiles.  

As we know, todays pandas mostly eat bamboo shoots - which in fact makes up 99% of their diet - so you could be forgiven for thinking that these bears are vegetarians.  But because of the type of digestive system they have, the panda actually falls into the order of ‘carnivores’; and seeing that they’ve been around for some 20 million years, it’s safe to say that in the past they would have certainly eaten “other things”; whether metal pots and pans were on the menu I am not sure, but I very much doubt that 2006 was the first time a panda tasted ‘leg of man’.

Panda with bamboo painting in progress

Panda painting in progress. 

Harry Miller
Harry Miller


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News / Work in progress / Mythology

Tiger in Buckinghamsire!

by Daniel Mackie June 14, 2020

This is Mack's Tiger. It was part of a school project based on my work and a theme of animals in the natural habitat.  Mack created this on Procreate on his mums iPad

Read More

Owls at Night

by Harry Miller April 30, 2020

Owl Greeting Card The DM Collection

With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se.  Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.

Read More

A Polar Bear's Tail

by Harry Miller April 22, 2020

Polar bear swimming in the ocean illustration The Dm Collection
Weighing up to as much as 800 kg - that’s roughly the same as 10 men - a male boar Polar Bear is the largest *hypercarnivorous land mammal on the planet.  In fact the largest specimen ever recorded was an Alaskan bear back in 1960, which weighed in at an astonishing 1,002 kg, and had a length of just over 11ft.  Now that’s a big bear!   

Read More