It's not often that a news story makes me as ambivalent as this seemingly insignificant article about the Edinburgh zoo penguin colony being shut for maintenance.
Seems routine and hardly of interest to an outsider, right? Only the most attentive reader would realize the import: This is apparently the same penguin colony we reported on a few months ago because it was pooping on visitors lined up along the side of its exhibit.
You'd think I'd berate such behavior, but there was a twist: The visitors were waiting in line to see the zoo's new panda exhibit.
There are few animals as infuriating as pandas. Their power to cloud our minds with cuteness is unsurpassed. Millions of dollars are spent to bring them to American zoos where they sit and do no more than a stuffed animal would. And yet more money is spent convincing them to reproduce in captivity, with deranged humans going so far as to dress up in panda suits to raise the babies.
So although I rarely side with animals against humans, there was a bigger issue at stake here, and I praised the penguins for their anti-panda poo protest.
And now we see the risk when you try to raise a stink about pandas: The protesting penguins are being forcibly relocated - some until the summer when their exhibit is scheduled to reopen, but some permanently.
The report by the Edinburgh Evening News does refer to the zoo's pandas, but it's clearly an irrelevant side note, dropped in simply because no reporter can write a story about a zoo with pandas without mentioning them:
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Zoo’s giant panda pair, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, are ready to welcome their 100,000th visitor today, less than four months after arriving from China.
The reporter seems oblivious of the history between these penguins and the pandas. And it was obviously not mentioned by zoo publicists - who are a major part of the panda-industrial complex and no doubt insiders to this conspiracy.
The story also notes that while the relocation is temporary for some of the penguins, some are moving as far away as Belfast and Denmark, and "Some will never return."
This is surely significant. Decisions about where to send zoo animals are never made randomly. What better opportunity for the pro-panda cabal to identify the ringleaders and put a permanent stop to their demonstration?
Photo of the penguin perp walk from the Edinburgh Evening News. Will any of our Scottish readers stand up for these brave protestors? Occupy Pandas!