A life lesson: Don't try to hug Big Brother, even if he looks cuddly.
A life lesson: Don't try to hug Big Brother, even if he looks cuddly.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the Chinese penchant for overly cute animal mascots and cartoon characters that carry out the duties of the police state, like the cybercops Jinjing and Chacha who rat-out naughty web users to the authorities (think of Microsoft's once inescapable Clippy in jackboots). I warned that Big Brother sometimes uses baby talk to hide his insidious ways.

Nothing epitomizes this more than the beloved and oh-so-cute panda bear, symbol of official Chinese friendliness. The cognitive dissonance of pairing a snuggly bear with a totalitarian state has always given me the creeps. So I was relieved to hear the cutie-pie mask slipped just a bit to reveal pandas aren't as cuddly as they seem.

The BBC reports that a fellow entered an exhibit in a zoo in the southern Chinese city of Guilin to hug a panda named, what else, Yang Yang. The panda returned the favor by viciously mauling the young man. The "shy" panda bit him on the arms and legs and the man had to be hauled out by zookeepers.

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him," the man told Xinhua from the hospital where he is recovering from his wounds. He might have been more careful had he seen this video. In any case, it's a good reminder that cuddly things aren't always what they seem. Imagine what kind of fangs the Teletubbies are hiding.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.