Chuang Chuang the giant panda has gotten too fat to have sex, I see by the news. Chuang Chuang and his mate Lin Hui live in the zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He weighs 331 pounds, and that's too much for Lin Hui, a relatively svelte 253 pounds. The zookeepers want the pair, who are on a 10-year lease from China, to reproduce, so they are trying various measures.
For one thing, Chuang Chuang's diet has been restricted to bamboo leaves; he may not have any more high-calorie bamboo shoots. Good luck on that. I haven't eaten a bamboo shoot in years, and look at me.
Also, the zookeepers are going to show Chuang Chuang some panda pornography. You may wonder where to get panda pornography. You get panda pornography the same place you get your pandas, from China, where it is an important part of the panda breeding program. If you are in a hurry and don't want to go to China, try YouTube first.
Once, years ago, I read a guidebook to Chiang Mai, a square little book with an orange cover, I remember vividly, full of the cultural and geographic wonders of the place. But only one thing caught and held my interest: a brief listing for a restaurant that served meat from exotic animals: elephant, giraffe, mongoose. Eating mongoose. Somehow that struck a chord deep within me, an insatiably omnivorous longing.
During our zoo-visiting phase, we read about a German zookeeper who had a policy of tasting all his animals when they died. He just had to know what every species tasted like. Once, while he was on vacation traveling away from the zoo, a Siberian tiger died and was buried. Upon his return, he insisted that the tiger be exhumed so he could have his meal of it.
We never got to Thailand; I'm basically a stay-at-home type. But eating is a way of encountering the world, and I've done much too much of it.
I never bade you go
to Moscow or to Rome
Renounce that drudgery.
Call the muses home.