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A Crocodile Painted like a Panda

Thailand has "panda fever", much like the panda mania that swept the US a few years ago. But American zoos never painted other animals to look like pandas! Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo has a pair of pandas on loan from China who produced a baby named Lin Ping. The birth doubled the zoo's attendance and revenues, causing other zoos to jump on the panda bandwagon.
At several sites across the country, commercial aquariums and animal parks are painting their animals in panda colors to keep up visitor numbers in the face of tougher competition -- as well as educate people about the threats elephants and crocodiles face in the wild.

Mr. Kamla, a 25-year-old crocodile-handler, fielded a barrage of questions from schoolchildren recently at Buengchawark Underwater Sea Paradise as he and a colleague painted a three-month-old Siamese crocodile in panda colors.

"They're an endangered species, too, like the panda, so we hope some of our knowledge will trickle down," Mr. Kamla says.

Prasit Vejprasit, an administrator at the aquarium, says busloads of schoolchildren -- the mainstay of the aquarium's business -- continue coming to the site, a couple of hours' travel northwest of Bangkok, encouraged in large part by the panda-colored crocs. He says teachers often call to confirm the aquarium is still painting crocodiles before sending their classes.

The children seem to enjoy the novelty. "Most crocodiles are scary but this one is cute," says Siripob Dara, 9 years old, before he asks Mr. Kamla how long it can grow and what it eats.

Link -via Dark Roasted Blend

(Image credit: James Hookway/The Wall Street Journal)

Previously at Neatorama: Panda-painted Elephants

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