clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No one is enjoying the East Coast blizzard as much as this panda

Like most of the Eastern Seaboard, we at Vox are snowed in. But as long as the Smithsonian National Zoo keeps posting videos like this, it will all be okay:

Tian Tian woke up this morning to a lot of snow...and he was pretty excited about it. #Blizzard2016

Posted by Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute on Saturday, January 23, 2016

That blissed-out ball of ice and fluff is Tian Tian, the National Zoo's 275-pound male giant panda. Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, the zoo's female giant panda, are the proud parents of this little guy, Bei Bei, who also got a "taste" of the snow:

(The blep is strong with this one.)

As my colleague Dara Lind explains, giant pandas in the wild are actually pretty ferocious creatures. But Chinese propaganda has encouraged the world to see them as the "ideal zoo animals," cuddly and sedate. (Color me indoctrinated!) That perception has allowed China to charge foreign zoos exorbitant fees to loan out and display pandas. It's also helped turn pandas into a bizarre diplomatic bargaining chip for China.

Sadly, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Bei Bei could be whisked back to China at any time — even though Bei Bei was born in the United States. No matter where a giant panda is born, it is considered the property of China. That's why Vox's Matt Yglesias argues that we need birthright citizenship for pandas.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.