December 23, 2013 5:57 AM   Subscribe

A scientist radio-tracking pandas in the Chinese wilderness frolics with an inquisitive cub who was left in his care by its mother: Dajun and the wild baby panda.

From this month's Smithsonian Magazine:
Sometimes, of course, the scientists in the field do get lucky. One of the researchers I met at Front Royal, Wang Dajun, a research scientist at Peking University who trained with the Smithsonian and collaborates with the species survival team, spends most of his time tracking pandas on the preserves in western China. He was explaining to me that wild pandas’ elusiveness is more a matter of their hard-to-navigate habitat and their solitary behavior, rather than any fear of humans; they don’t actually seem to mind humans very much. He began to grin, and then explained that one female panda that was tracked beginning in 1989 had become particularly relaxed in his presence. She was so relaxed, in fact, that one spring morning, as she was walking with her cub, she turned to Wang and indicated that she wanted him to babysit so she could head off to feed. Another scientist filmed this episode of Wang providing panda child care. In the video, now posted on YouTube, you will be struck not only by the amazing sight of a panda cub tumbling and frolicking with Wang, but also by the look of utter joy on Wang’s face as he scratches the cub’s belly, extracts the sleeve of his jacket from the cub’s inquisitive grip, and, then, at one point, hoists the cub up in the air and dances with him. "That," Wang writes on the YouTube page, "was best time in my life."
The panda, named Sun, was about a year and a half old at the time of filming. In 2010, when Dajun Wang posted the video, he was still going strong at the age of 16. Wikipedia reports that pandas in the wild typically have a lifespan of 20 years.
posted by Westringia F. (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Wang also writes on his YouTube page, "Sorry that I can't come here frequently, because Youtube is blocked in China. Thanks everybody visit this video, hope you all enjoyed." What a shame!

I'd be interested to know what the Chinese text in the video says, if anyone would care to translate.
posted by Westringia F. at 5:59 AM on December 23, 2013

That is so cute!
I am never eating Panda again.
posted by Colonel Panic at 6:23 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

At like 8:14, the scientist hoists the panda with his hands under the panda's armpits and sorta swings the panda around and afterwards the panda seems to be like i'm gonna get you for reals and the scientist can't stop laughing. Which is sorta the dynamic I had as a kid with my younger brothers.
posted by angrycat at 6:32 AM on December 23, 2013

No why take your rain jacket off, stop, what are you doing! It's going to be wet inside.
posted by Joe Chip at 9:39 AM on December 23, 2013

Wet inside now, vs. rambunctious panda punctures => wet inside forever.
posted by Westringia F. at 9:50 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2013

Also he is obviously taking off his jacket because frolicking with pandas is sweaty work.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on December 23, 2013

posted by louche mustachio at 2:14 PM on December 23, 2013

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