Move over, elephants. Pandas rule the town this summer with 1600 Pandas World Tour.
What exactly is 1,600 Pandas World Tour?
An exhibition by French artist and sculptor Paulo Grangeon, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to raise awareness for panda conservation. It consists of 1,600 papier-mâché panda bears. And just in case if you are curious, pa·pier mâ·ché is a malleable mixture of paper and glue, or paper, flour, and water, that becomes hard when dry. Reminds me of the sort of glue we used back in school!
The 1,600 Pandas World Tour was first launched in France in 2008. It then made its way to Holland, Italy , Germany, Switzerland, and slowly made it to Asia: Taiwan (2014), Hong Kong (2014), South Korea (2015), Malaysia (2015) and now in Thailand (2016).
Why 1600 Pandas?
That is the estimated number of Pandas alive in the wild, when the campaign first started in 2008.
According to WWF here, the latest census in 2014 shows that there were 1,864 giant pandas alive in the wild. This means, the panda population have risen by 17 percent! Good news, isn’t it?
When and Where to See the 1600 Pandas?
From Mar 4 to Apr 4 this year, the pandas will appear ala flashmobs in Bangkok. The first stop was at Sanam Luang, with final stop decided by popular vote: Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai was the winning venue.
I managed to catch the one at Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) 2 weeks ago. I missed the one back at KL, by the way. So glad that I managed to make it to the tour in Bangkok.
If you missed the earlier flash mobs, you can check them out at Central Embassy, level G, the main exhibition venue, from 24 March to 10 April, from 10am to 10pm.
What Can You Do?
After the exhibition at Central Embassy in Bangkok closes in April, all of the panda models will be up for adoption. The money raised will help WWF Thailand in their conservation works. See here of you are interested, with price ranging from 800 baht (small size), 1,200 baht (medium size) to 1,600 baht (large size).
When I was at BACC, the volunteers kept on asking people to support the campaign and #hashtag. Geewiz, they have a looooong list of hashtags!
There is also a Panda Making Workshop contest from 24 March – 10 April 2016. Enter by snapping a panda selfie. Then, post the photo on Instagram or Facebook (set as public) hashtag #1600PANDASPLUSTH #CENTRALEMBASSY
If paper panda is not your thing, and if you prefer to see the real deal, say hi to Xuang Xuang and Lin Hui, two real pandas at the Chiang Mai Zoo. The pandas are on loan from China until 2023, for panda conservation research project.