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中華青年思想與行動的聚合地

大熊猫能“拯救”中美关系吗

VICKI CONSTANTINE CROKE

2024年6月11日

Jonno Rattman for The New York Times

Our interest in pandas has always brought out the best and the worst in us.

对大熊猫的兴趣总是激发出我们最好和最坏的一面。

In 1936, a wealthy Manhattan adventurer, Ruth Harkness, returned from China carrying the first live baby giant panda seen in the United States, setting off what many punning headline writers would forever call “panda-monium.” Thousands of Americans jostled to see this creature. Reporters, photographers and newsreel cameras chased Ms. Harkness. Time magazine called the panda “Animal of the Year.” Theodore Roosevelt III, the former president’s son, held the baby on his lap; the famed wildlife artist Charles Knight sketched portraits. Curious Americans couldn’t get enough.

1936年,富有的曼哈顿冒险家露丝·哈克尼斯从中国带回了一只大熊猫宝宝,那是第一次有活体大熊猫来到美国,引发了群情鼎沸,许多喜欢在标题中使用双关的作者把当时的盛况称之为“panda-monium”(即pandemonium[群情鼎沸]一词用大熊猫“panda”改写。——译注)。成千上万的美国人争先恐后前来观看。记者、摄影师和新闻摄影机竞相追逐哈克尼斯。《时代》杂志称这只大熊猫为“年度动物”。前总统的儿子西奥多·罗斯福三世把大熊猫宝宝抱在腿上;著名的野生生物艺术家查尔斯·奈特为它绘制了肖像。好奇的美国人对大熊猫怎么也看不够。

Yet just a few years later, Ms. Harkness became heartsick over what she’d helped unleash. Squads of panda hunters began fanning out to “bag” more of the animals (despite the Chinese government’s efforts to stop Westerners from leaving the country with pandas). The treatment of these animals in captivity more broadly horrified her. So she did something amazing: From the city of Chengdu, she took a recently captured young panda, hiked into the mountains and set the animal free.

然而,仅仅几年后,哈克尼斯就对她所引发的一切感到痛心疾首。成群结队的熊猫猎人四处出击,去“猎取”更多的大熊猫(尽管中国政府努力阻止西方人带着大熊猫出境)。这些动物被圈养后所受的待遇更让她感到震惊。于是,她做了一件惊人之举:她从成都市出发,带着一只最近捕获的幼年大熊猫,徒步到山里,把它放归自然。

America’s obsession with pandas has swelled since that time. Washington mourned when the pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo went back to China late last year. Its residents are elated to know a new pair of pandas will arrive at the zoo later this year. Another pair will arrive at the San Diego Zoo. As Americans gear up to greet pandas once again, we should remember that our infatuation with these animals requires a commitment to treating them with reverence and solicitude — because their presence improves us, and the planet, in ways that transcend the sheer joy of observing them.

从那时起,美国人对大熊猫的痴迷愈演愈烈。去年年底,当史密森尼国家动物园的大熊猫返回中国时,华盛顿人感到悲伤,但在得知今年晚些时候将有一对新的大熊猫来到该动物园后又欢欣起来。此外,还有一对大熊猫将抵达圣地亚哥动物园。当美国人再次准备迎接大熊猫时,我们应该记住,我们对这些动物的迷恋需要我们承诺以崇敬和关怀的态度去对待它们——因为它们的存在为我们和地球带来了好处,远不止观察它们所带来的纯粹欢乐。

Over time, the fortunes of these sensitive, charismatic creatures have risen and fallen like companies on the stock market, thanks to the collision of conservation forces, bureaucracies and international diplomacy. China has for decades offered these animals to our zoos as high-priced loans; in the 1980s the practice became best known as lucrative, short-term “rent a panda” programs. Safeguards were later put in place by the U.S. government and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure that profits were poured into conservation.

这些动物敏感而又迷人,然而在时间的长河中,由于动物保护力量、官僚机构和国际外交的碰撞,它们的命运就像股票市场上的公司一样起起落落。几十年来,中国一直以高价把这些动物租给我们的动物园;在20世纪80年代,这种做法被称为利润丰厚的短期“租借大熊猫”项目。后来,美国政府和动物园水族馆协会实施了保护措施,以确保从中获得的利润被投入到保护工作中。

Pandas are more than objects to be shipped overseas. They are the rarest bear species on earth, and they live quiet lives in the mountains of China, vanishing into the vegetation when humans appear. As the great field biologist George Schaller wrote, these bears with a meat eater’s digestive system and the diet of a vegetarian are “as improbable as a carnivorous cow.” Unlike any other bear’s, their pupils are vertical, like a cat’s. And their method of mating in captivity seems anything but, well, productive. When they do conceive, their babies are born vulnerable and tiny, comparable in size to a stick of butter. (Case in point: One of the National Zoo’s most famous former resident pandas was nicknamed Butterstick.)

大熊猫不仅仅是运往海外的物品。它们是地球上最稀有的熊类物种,安静地生活在中国的山区,一旦人类出现就会消失在树丛中。正如伟大的野外生物学家乔治·夏勒所写的那样,这种具有食肉动物消化系统和食草动物饮食习惯的熊类“就像食肉的牛一样不可思议”。与其他熊类不同的是,大熊猫的瞳孔是垂直的,就像猫一样。在圈养环境下,它们的交配方式似乎显得非常低效。就算能够怀孕,新生大熊猫也非常脆弱,个头很小,只有一根黄油棒那么大。(国家动物园以前最有名的一只常驻大熊猫绰号就叫黄油棒。)

Our extreme attraction to pandas comes down in great part to their physical traits reminding us of baby versions of ourselves, but even cuter and more exaggerated: large heads, wobbly beach ball bodies, dark patches that make their eyes look bigger. They sit up to eat like a child does, and they hold their food with the help of a sixth digit that makes their paws look like mittens.

我们对大熊猫的极度喜爱在很大程度上是因为它们的身体特征让我们联想到人类婴儿,但是大熊猫的样子更可爱、更夸张:大大的脑袋、摇摇晃晃的身体好像沙滩球一样、黑斑让眼睛看起来更大。它们像孩子一样坐起来吃东西,它们的爪子有六根手指,抓着食物的时候活像戴了连指手套。

Like Ms. Harkness before them, American organizations, including the National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, have worked to make life better for pandas in the wild and in captivity — supporting habitat conservation and partnering to connect isolated islands of habitat. The National Zoo is raising $25 million for its new pandas, partly to pay for the new 10-year loan of these creatures and renovations to the zoo’s panda spaces, but also to underwrite many conservation projects.

和之前的哈克尼斯一样,包括国家动物园和圣地亚哥动物园在内的美国组织一直在努力改善野生和圈养大熊猫的生活——支持栖息地保护,并且提供合作帮助,将孤立的栖息地连接起来。美国国家动物园正在为新添的大熊猫筹集2500万美元,部分用于支付新的大熊猫10年租借费和动物园熊猫区翻修费,但也用于资助许多保护项目。

Researchers have spent decades studying pandas’ nutritional needs and have made breakthroughs in assessing and maximizing a healthy giant panda gene pool to try to ensure the species has a bright future. They’ve honed assisted-reproduction techniques for pandas, which have mysterious and short-window mating habits. (At least one practice, electro-ejaculation, was later used to help humans have babies.)

研究人员花了几十年的时间研究大熊猫的营养需求,并在评估和最大限度扩大健康大熊猫基因库方面取得了突破,以确保该物种有一个光明的未来。他们还精研大熊猫的辅助繁殖技术,因为熊猫的交配习惯非常神秘,窗口期也非常短暂。(至少有一种研究成果——电刺激取精术——后来被用来帮助人类生育。)

Though this is a time of political upheaval in this country and strained relations between the United States and China, the return of these animals to America is a cause for great celebration. The well-being of these particular pandas and that of their wild relatives must be the focus of international teamwork, even through complicated issues around captivity, government policy and foreign relations. When 2-year-old pandas Bao Li and Qing Bao arrive by the end of the year, they’ll represent an ongoing partnership and cooperation between American and Chinese biologists: pandas as diplomats.

虽然目前正值美国政治动荡和中美关系紧张的时期,但是,这种动物回到美国依然值得庆祝。这些特殊的大熊猫及其野生亲属的福祉必须成为国际合作的重点,即使是在围绕圈养、政府政策和外交关系等复杂问题上也是如此。今年年底,两岁大的大熊猫“宝力”和“青宝”将抵达美国,它们将代表中美生物学家之间持续的伙伴关系与合作:大熊猫充当着外交官的角色。

My friend Rich Block, who has had a long career in the animal world working with the World Wildlife Fund and as the chief executive of the Santa Barbara Zoo, knows panda politics all too well. He told me that while both the United States and China may be experiencing tensions politically, the countries are well aligned in their love for pandas and their desire to help them. “You know, the irony,” he said, “is that all this energy from zoos and scientists and others for years has been to save pandas. And it may just be now that it’s the pandas who save us.”

我的朋友里奇·布洛克在动物的世界里工作了很长时间,曾就职于世界野生动物基金会,并担任圣巴巴拉动物园的首席执行官,他对熊猫政治了如指掌。他告诉我,虽然美国和中国在政治上可能都处于紧张状态,但两国对熊猫的热爱和帮助它们的愿望是一致的。“你知道,讽刺的是,”他说,“多年来,动物园、科学家和其他人付出的所有努力都是为了拯救大熊猫。但也许现在是大熊猫在拯救我们。”

Vicki Constantine Croke是《大象公司》一书的作者。她正在写一本关于印度狮的书。

翻译:纽约时报中文网

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