The Motherland


Recently I had the opportunity to visit some of my relatives at the Panda Reserve in Chungdu, China. I was invited to visit the Reserve by my friend Dr. Steve “Number 42” Case. Number 42, besides being one of the original Project Steve Steves, is also co-chairperson of the Kansas Science Standards Writing Committee as well as Director of the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas.

It was certainly moving to see my ancestral home and native habitat. I don’t run into many pandas in the scientific circles I inhabit, nor many real bamboo stands for dinner.

I imagine that Number 42 is enjoying doing research in China right now rather than dealing with the continuing shenanigans of the state Board of Education back in Kansas. He tells me that his next stop is Zhengzhou, the place where KU recently acquired fossil dinosaur eggs from. He is going to see if he can acquire some - maybe I’ll be able to visit him there also.


Chungdu? You mean Chengdu?

Last year I traveled to Chengdu and felt very sorry for the pandas in the zoo itself. The ones in reserves further in the countryside are probably a lot happier, but the zoo seemed really behind the times. It was focused on amusement more than education and confined many animals in small quarters. I remember a watching a keeper making a magnificent old orangutan clap its hands for an audience, and it made me sad. There was a “monkey hill” that wasn’t so confining, but was so littered with junk food scraps that it attracted more rats than monkeys. The red pandas seemed healthy and it good shape, but the giant pandas looked bored. One thing I remember vividly is taking the path around the panda house and seeing a giant panda not feeding among the scrawny bamboo patch, but scratching at the back door like some poor old pooch who missed the dinner bell.

Just a warning for anyone with the opportunity to see Chengdu. Go there for the incredible Sichuan food, the Buddhist temples, or just to see the crazy economic growth of China’s cities. Go to the zoo if you want to, but you might find it a little shocking. (Granted, I haven’t been to an American zoo in years and might have an over-optimistic expectation of what to find there.)

Ummm, just because they assured you they were Thousand Year Old Eggs doesn’t mean they’re fossil dinosaur eggs. Age is right, around Ark-time, but dinosaurs didn’t lay eggs before the Fall. ;-)

Be careful, they’re delicious (if you have a cold), but you may be a wee bit … ummm, “aromatic” … the next day.


Chengdu is of course where the prettiest Chinese girls come from.

Hope it’s the same for Panda’s Steve Steve.

I’m glad to see Steve is learning a new career in puppetry for the post-scientific world envisioned by the BOE creationists…

If they have their way, before you know it, we’ll have to re-discover fire and the wheel and antiseptics.

Be careful about exporting dinosaur eggs from China! Unless you have some sort of scientific permit I doubt the Government will let you export them legally. Even if you don’t get more than a slap on the wrist, some poor local might get in some serious trouble for attempting to smuggle dinosaur eggs or vertebrate fossils. The Chinese take such matters seriously and don’t mind sending the next of kin a bill for the bullet.

I cringe when I see dino eggs for sale at gem and mineral shows here in the US. Any potential scientific value is lost and someone has risked their life so someone else can have a mere trophy.

ALSO, there are lots of fake dinosaur eggs out there.

Steve “Number 42” Case is a cool guy. It’s good that we have him here in Kansas.

Too bad the BOE had to butcher the science standards so much that he didn’t want his name on them any more.

Pandas look so snuggly. I wish they wouldn’t maul you if given the chance.

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This page contains a single entry by Prof. Steve Steve published on November 21, 2005 1:40 PM.

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