Tiny Baby Wonder Giant Panda
Living amongst the wet bamboo forests in the mountains of China, is just another day for the rolly black and white bear. This 7-month-old baby loves the peace and tranquillity, disturbed only by him and his mother playfully tumbling through the undergrowth. Having no natural predators makes things a lot easier for this little bear, but his mother worries about what he will do when he is old enough to leave home. Their habitat is getting much too small with people developing all around making it impossible to get from one side of their territory to the other.
The national treasure of China, this cuddly-looking black and white bear has been a symbol of conservation for decades. Living in the temperate forests of the mountains of China, they spend 12 hours of their day eating bamboo, a full 26-84 pounds of it. It has elongated wrist bones, similar to thumbs, which have developed specifically for the task of plucking stalks. Even though they may appear to be sedentary animals, they are actually very good climbers and swimmers.
For most people, the only way to see a panda is in a zoo, as their iconic black and white markings render them almost invisible among the masses of bamboo in which they live. Pandas are solitary creatures with an incredible sense of smell to help them to avoid one another; the only time they come together is to mate. Mating in captivity has been notoriously difficult, with a natural mating now very rare. Incredibly, while the world sat in lockdown, two pandas finally found themselves in the mood. Maybe all they needed was a little privacy!
A mother will give birth to one or two cubs but she can only take care of one. These babies are born blind, cannot crawl, and are pink with little white hairs. The tiny baby is completely helpless and nurses 6-14 times a day in sessions up to half an hour long. Occasionally the mother will need to leave the den for a few hours to feed where she leaves her baby defenceless. They will start to develop their iconic black and white look a month after they are born. At about 2 ½ months old the mother will start to play and wrestle with her cub and feed it small amounts of bamboo but it will keep drinking her milk for a year. The family will stay together for about 2 years after which the cub will head out to find its own territory.
Giant pandas were rapidly heading towards extinction. But with a huge push for conservation efforts in the '60s, the giant panda has moved from the classification of rare to vulnerable, now with around 1,800 in the wild. 67 panda reserves in China protect around two-thirds of the giant pandas in the wild and more than 50% of the giant panda's habitat. This is important as one of the biggest threats still facing the panda is habitat loss. Development for dams, roads, and railways are fragmenting the panda's habitats making it difficult for them to find potential mates and more bamboo.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
ABOUT GILLIE AND MARC
Gillie and Marc’s highly coveted public artworks can be found worldwide including in New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, and Sydney. They are Archibald Prize finalists, won the Chianciano Biennale in Italy, took out the Allens People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2018 and Kids’ Choice Award in the 2016 Sculpture by the Sea and received the Bayside Arts Festival People's Choice Award in 2019 in Sydney.
The husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to make art for a better tomorrow. They are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as best friends and soul mates.
Gillie and Marc are also passionate eco-warriors and have dedicated their lives to protecting nature.
Gillie grew up with the wildlife in Zambia and Marc studied chimpanzees in Tanzania as a young man. Over time, the artists developed a deep appreciation for all living things and a desire to preserve the magnificence of the natural world.
Through their art, Gillie and Marc aim to transform passive audiences into passionate advocates for animal conservation. Their mission is to use their work as a platform to continue spreading awareness about endangerment, which will ultimately lead to change and save species from extinction.
Their art has raised hundreds of thousands in donations for the many wildlife charities and causes they support through their project Love The Last.
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