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France Creates New Fuel Source Using Panda Poo!

Pandas and Bamboo are the perfect combo to create fuel! Pandas eat so much bamboo that their poo is almost completely made out of bamboo fibers which makes it easy to burn as a fuel source = giving us PANDA POWER! The Beauval zoo in France announced it would build a facility that would process the dung of Yuan Zi and Huan Huan ("Chubby" and "Happy" in Chinese) and of other animals, as well as plant matter, to produce biogas that will then be turned into heat and electricity. The plant, which will cost 2.3 million euros ($3 million) and is expected to be operative in the spring of 2014.

Some of the energy produced will be used to keep gorillas and manatees -- also known as sea cows -- warm in their pens, and to heat the building that houses elephants in the winter, allowing a 40 percent saving on the gas bill. The rest will be transformed into electricity and sold to French power giant EDF. "This initiative is a perfect fit in the policy of sustainable development that we have been applying for a long time," said Delphine Delord, spokeswoman for the zoo.

Bamboo is a wonder plant with many useful benefits. Bamboo provides food for humans as well as pandas and can also be used to feed livestock. Bamboo can be grown on every continent except Antarctica. Bamboo is very eco-friendly as a fuel source because it is one of the world's fastest-growing plants. Some species can grow nearly four feet in a day!

Pandas are an endangered species and only about 1,600 remain in the wild in China. Some 300 others are in captivity worldwide -- mostly in China, but also in 15 foreign zoos where they are sent as part of Beijing's efforts to use soft power to boost its image, the so-called "panda diplomacy." They eat 35 kilos (78 pounds) of bamboo a day and defecate about 30 kilos a day, making them prime candidates for this green initiative.


Happy Chinese New Year! Baby Pandas Go Wild At Giant Panda Carnival!

A Giant Panda Festival is taking place in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province, and humans are allowed to attend as well.

This annual carnival  marks the Lunar New Year, and celebrates China's most adorable icon.

A giant panda reserve in Chengdu has a lucky seven cute panda cubs.  The playful toddlers are drawing visitors during the New Years celebration, even inspiring a little twist to some traditional Chinese arts.

Panda inspired calligraphy, paper cutting, and even the renowned face-changing acts of Peking Opera were there.

For those with a sweet tooth, there will be panda sugar painting and sculpting, as well as a few educational lectures. But beware, there are the occasional panda imposters.

On Wednesday, one of the  highlights was the weighing of the rough-and-tumble half-year old twins, Cheng Shuang and Cheng Dui. At the weigh in, the sneaky cubs even tried to eat the scale.

And panda’s don’t mind packing on the pounds. Reserve employees report the twins are a very healthy size.  Only three ounces at birth, half a year later, they are now up to over 37 pounds.

Best of all, the profits from all the pandamonium are going straight back to the adorable animals for panda research and protection.



This Panda is So Cute I Could Eat It! Wait What?

Ever reacted to the sight of a cute puppy or darling infant by squealing, "I want to eat you up!"? Or maybe you can't help but want to pinch your grandbaby's adorable cheeks. You're not alone. New research finds that seemingly strange aggressive responses to cuteness are actually the norm.

In fact, people not only verbalize these aggressive desires with phrases like, "I just want to squeeze something!" they also really do act them out. In the study, presented on January 18 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that people watching a slideshow of adorable pictures popped more bubbles on a sheet of bubble wrap than did people viewing funny or neutral pictures.

We think it's about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control," said study researcher Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University. "You know, you can't stand it, you can't handle it, that kind of thing."

Dyer got interested in what she and her colleagues call "cute aggression" after chatting with a fellow student about how adorable Internet pictures often produce the desire to squish or squeeze the cute critter. All the existing research on cuteness suggests the reaction should be the opposite: people should want to treat a cute thing with gentleness and care.

So they recruited 109 participants online to look at pictures of cute, funny or neutral animals. A cute animal might be a fluffy puppy, while a funny animal could be a dog with its head out a car window, jowls flapping. A neutral animal might be an older dog with a serious expression.

The participants rated the pictures on cuteness and funniness, as well as on how much they felt the pictures made them lose control — for example, if they agreed with statements such as "I can't handle it!" The participants also rated the extent to which the pictures made them "want to say something like 'grr!'" and "want to squeeze something."

Sure enough, the cuter the animal, the less control and more desire to "grrr" and squeeze something that people felt. Cute animals produced this feeling significantly more strongly than did funny animals. The funny critters in turn produced the feeling more strongly than did neutral animals, perhaps because the funny animals were perceived as cute, too, Dyer said.

Still, those results could have merely identified a verbal expression for cuteness, rather than a real feeling. So they told the participants that this was a study of motor activity and memory, and then gave the subjects sheets of bubble wrap. The participants were instructed to pop as many or as few bubbles as they wanted, just as long as they were doing something involving motion.

The researchers really wanted to know if people would respond to cute animals with an outward display of aggression, popping more bubbles, compared with people looking at neutral or funny animals. That's exactly what happened. The people watching a cute slideshow popped 120 bubbles, on average, compared with 80 for the funny slideshow and just a hair over 100 for the neutral one.

Dyer said she and her colleagues aren't yet sure why cuteness seems to trigger expressions of aggression, even relatively harmless ones. It's possible that seeing a wide-eyed baby or roly-poly pup triggers our drive to care for that creature, Dyer said. But since the animal is just a picture, and since even in real life we might not be able to care for the creature as much as we want, this urge may be frustrated, she said. That frustration could lead to aggression. Or the reason might not be specific to cuteness, Dyer said. Many overwhelmingly positive emotions look negative, as when Miss America sobs while receiving her crown. Such high levels of positive emotion may overwhelm people. It might be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch somehow, Dyer said. "That sort of regulates, keeps us level and releases that energy."

How many bubbles would you pop for this panda?


Cute Pandas Have Special Blood that May Be a Source of New Antibiotics!

Pandas are more than just cute, cuddly creatures. Researchers have found that the endangered animals produce a strong antibiotic in their blood that fights against drug-resistant superbugs – a discovery that may add weight to conservation efforts.

The antibiotic compound, cathelicidin-AM, destroys both fungi and bacteria, and is released by the animal’s immune system to ward off infections, the Telegraph reported. Scientists at Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China found cathelicidin-AM while studying pandas’ DNA. The powerful compound can kill bacteria in under an hour, whereas most well-known antibiotics take at least six times longer than that.

The discovery has important implications for humans, as researchers work to find new ways to combat increasingly potent strains of bacteria. “Under the pressure of increasing microorganisms with drug resistance against conventional antibiotics, there is urgent need to develop new type of antimicrobial agents,” Dr. Xiuwen Yan, the study’s lead researcher, told the Telegraph. Antibiotics produced in animals’ bloodstreams, like that of the panda, have a much smaller chance of causing drug-resistant strains of bacteria, Yan explained.

The new research may provide a much-needed push to save panda; only about 1,600 exist in the wild. Panda populations have continued to drop as urban growth destroys their bamboo habitats in China and southeast Asia. Breeding in captivity, as well as in the wild, has proved to be exceedingly difficult for the animals. Female pandas are only able to become pregnant once a year.

The animal’s breeding struggles, however, will not hinder scientists from making use of the antibiotic. They have already begun to artificially produce the substance in a lab by decoding the panda’s genes to create a tiny molecule called a peptide. Researchers are now working to find ways to transform that peptide into a drug that fights bacteria – or into an antiseptic that kills germs.

Yan said it is also possible that similar antibiotics are produced in other animals. Close compounds have been found in the mucus of snails and other amphibians. “More than 1000 antimicrobial peptides have been found from animals, plants, and microorganisms,” Yan said, adding that the cathelicidin-AMfound in pandas was most similar to the cathelicidin found in dogs.

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