Heh. It was four years ago this month that the Annexation Lardbombs exploded at the Taipei Zoo. They were delivered on Dec 23, 2008, and went on display a month later, to a brief flurry of absolute madness. Profoundly political and not the least bit a demonstration of goodwill, they were handled as a "domestic transfer" under CITES, one of the many quiet ways that the Ma government has capitulated to Beijing, as my round-up post above notes. They were named "Reunification" in Chinese. The Zoo's annual budget for them was over a million US$, and it wasted $10 million US on the enclosure for them, according to AP.
Meanwhile, let's review those promises from the heady days of late 2008.
Zoo officials expect the two giant pandas to attract more than 6 million visitors in the first year, saying they will issue numbered slips to visitors at the panda hall to prevent them from waiting in long lines.(TT)Six million! Zoiks! Meanwhile I wrote at the time:
Based on these previous crazes, there will undoubtedly be another craze for the pandas, simple creatures, the public will queue up in long lines for a short glimpse of the rotund bamboo chewing machines, leading commentators to write about how successful the Capitulationist Raccoons are.Of course I was right, the whole thing was another one of those "we'll make money by subsidizing China" scams the pro-China crowd is so fond of. I wrote at the time:
But the fact is that such crazes, normal in Taiwanese life, have short half-lives, and this one will fade as it dawns even on the easily-led primate herds of Taipei that observing pandas is as unique and fun and interesting as watching granite erode.
It's a very Chinese gift somehow, that gets Taiwan to pay to starve its own resources for the sake of China. Indeed a perfect metaphor for Taiwan-China relations.If you eyeball the chart at the top, you can see that there is a bulge for the pandas but the general trend is flat and falling since 2002. Essentially officials were predicting a doubling of attendance thanks to the presence of two furred machines for turning bamboo into shit. The exact opposite actually happened.
How long did the craze last? Zoo attendance figures by month for 2008-10:
REF: Information from the Zoo's 2012 quarterly report (4th quarter).
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.