The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

We shouldn't bother saving the pandas.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/19/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,090 times Debate No: 35765
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (2)




Yes, they're incredibly cute and cuddly but that is NOT a valid reason for the zoo of Edinburgh to spend millions of pounds annually in keeping them alive... Especially, in this economic state.

The truth is, all around the world, conservatives have become obsessed with keeping these Chinese species alive because they believe its only "natural". The fact is that these species were doomed from the very beginning and would have gone extinct ANYWAYS. We only have to analyze the nature of these bears to see why ; The male and female species live separately and are reluctant to breed. In addition, the females have a very narrow window to which they breed. Also, very few of their cubs survive to adulthood. All of this means that they have very low birth rate and evolutionarily, bound to go extinct eventually.

Any good biologist can tell you that in the entire history of the early well over 99% of the species that have ever existed are extinct and that is regardless of OUR behavior. This also include the pandas who are clearly weak when it comes to survival of the fittest and fail in passing on their genetic information successfully. It is only NATURAL that they go extinct.

So does it really make sense for us to waste so much of our valuable resources, money and time trying to "save" them when we could be using all of that on more worthwhile matters?


Raya states that 99% of species are extinct, and this is true. In fact, all species are bound for extinction. However, saying that this fact alone means we should let them go extinct without a fight is like saying that we shouldn't have hospitals because all people are going to die and most humans already are dead.

Second, pandas are not an unsuccessful species. They are ancient, and they are classified as a living fossil. This means that pandas have been so well adapted to their environment that they have survived mass extinctions long enough to be genetically different from extant species. It"s also wrong to say that pandas are reluctant to breed. This is true in captivity, but they compete to breed in the wild. They do have a low birth rate because of the females" short reproductive window; however, in evolutionary terms, this is an effect of having no predators: they evolved slow birth rates because they needed to cull their own populations. When humans began interacting with them, poaching introduced a predator and caused them their current problems. Their being on the edge of extinction is human-caused.

That said, there is an extremely important reason to save giant pandas, and that is that they are charismatic mega fauna. In simple terms, they're cute and cuddly. This in and of itself is not a reason to save them, but people love them for superficial reasons, and this gives them the potential to be powerful symbols for conservation. If we tell people that pandas are in danger, it makes them more sensitive to the need to protect the Earth than telling them that that something they dislike or fear needs protection. Pandas make environmentalism marketable in ways that few other species have or can. One example of the unique impact that pandas have is that they are among the first species to have their natural habitat named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a great precedent to set, and it was achieved because people love the species.
Debate Round No. 1


It is a scientific fact that pandas are already hopeless as a species. Other than issues with breeding that I discussed earlier, their main food is not very nutritious and they are extremely susceptible for various diseases. My opponent has very rightfully pointed out that they are almost impossible to breed in captivity. Yet, why do we spend so much of our resources trying? When we clearly can't save them at all so why waste so much time and money?

Indeed, people love the species for very superficial reasons and get emotionally attached to them. But are we being realistic here? It is not only a "symbol" for biodiversity, as side opposition has pointed out, but also an illusion. Indeed, people are emotionally attached to pandas, hence its fair to point out that it only makes us FEEL as if we are pro-nature and maintaining biodiversity. We, as humans, like to convince ourselves we are making the best decisions by simply to choosing to "save" the cutest species we can.

But is it really helping with biodiversity? The fact of the matter is that the hundreds of millions of pounds that are being used all around the world annually to try an already doomed species just because its a "symbol". This money can be used, instead, to save a rainforest that would probably constitute of millions of more species and have so much of a more positive impact. In the big picture, investing so much of our time and resources on these bears is not solving the problem with biodiversity, deforestation or any of the larger issues we need to face.

We, as humans, should make EDUCATED and not EMOTIONAL decisions on what species to save.


It is not a scientific fact that pandas are hopeless as a species. Sure, they're susceptible to disease; however, no large mammal has yet been found that more commonly falls prey to communicable diseases than human beings, and we are doing fairly well. In addition, these are animals that have been successfully living off of bamboo since the earliest days of mammalian dominance of this planet. There are very, very few mammals that have proven as hearty and extinction-proof as the panda in the last tens of millions of years. Now they've run afoul of humans, their numbers have declined sharply. However, they've bounced back from much more catastrophic events than humans many times. Also, as points out, humans have had their population bottleneck into the low thousands more than once, and we are now the most dominant predators on the planet. There is no reason pandas are doomed.

When Pro says that an emotional decision is an illusion, she is simply dead wrong. Every major social movement uses powerful images and emotional appeals to attract support. From Paine's "The Summertime Soldier" for the American Revolution to the use of relatable and likable people lie Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, and Richard Feynman to promote popular scientific knowledge, people have always used likable mascots to attract attention. It's a valuable way to get more interest tn strictly factual appeals ever can.

And, yes, saving rain forest would be a great use of resources. As I pointed out above, our love of pandas led to UNESCO declaring their habitat a world heritage site. This did two things. One, it helped to save many other species who live in those habitats. It also set a precedent for the declaring of other natural habitats as protected areas, and this has resulted in many tracts of rain forest being set aside in this way.
Debate Round No. 2


I see that we are constantly having this clash of whether or not Pandas are fit as a species. The fact that they're not has been backed by evidence and even agreed with by many reputed naturalists and zoologists such as Chris Packam. Once again, here are just some of the many reasons why the Pandas are hopeless and must be left to their natural destiny of extinction :

- Female pandas have "lazy ovaries" as the ovulate merely once a year and can handle only on set of offspring every two years. There is no clearer recipe for extinction. Yes, this feature, as side opposition has pointed out, is because of lack of interaction with predators but that doesn't make it any less negative feature.
-Behavior wise, they have proven reluctant to breed and show very less interest in actually populating themselves.
-In many cases, where they do receive a set of twins, they often actively let one of them die.
-Their only food source, bamboo, is so hard for them to digest that they literally spend sixteen hours a day eating them. This is an extremely inefficient diet.
I do believe that we should aim to safe and maintain biodiversity, but all the millions of dollars worth money spend on the pandas could be so much more effective if taken these points into account.

I absolutely agree with the valuable emotional ways in which Bill Nye, Carl Sagan and many others have popularized science. But there is always and underlying educational and logical reason behind it that makes it worthwhile, both economically and in terms of the benefits it has for the general public. However, spending millions of pounds on a species only because its has emotional values attached to it is not worth it.

There are definitely other ways that get the general public to appreciate and respect biodiversity without deluding them that they are making a difference simply because pandas are cute. We need to look at the bigger picture and stop focusing on a single species, especially when they are so weak.


Chris Packham does not seem to understand evolution on a basic level. He is, by the way, also in support of letting tigers die out because poaching has made them "worth more dead than alive." But at any rate, his claims that pandas are doomed is ridiculous.

Raya is simply incorrect when she says that slow reproduction makes an animal weak. To use this example again, humans are one of the large mammals with the lowest reproductive rates year over year, and we are overrunning the planet. And pandas, in fact, have skyrocketing population figures. In the 1980's, the world panda population sat around 1,000. By 2005, that number was 1,600. In 21013, it's at least 2,200, and some surveys have placed the number closer to 3,000.

It is difficult to understand how a weak species that is utterly hopeless could have tripled its numbers in three decades.

Now, to address the dietary concerns raised above, I'll state that every carnivore that has ever lived has gone through a period like the one that pandas are experiencing. They are transitioning from a meat diet to a vegetable diet. Of course it's inefficient. Every meat eater came from plant eaters and went through exactly the same process, though in reverse. This is an adaptation in progress, not a weakness. In addition, pandas are still perfectly capable of eating meat and eggs, and they do so in times of duress.

Saving pandas is viable, both scientifically and economically. They are the vanguards of the conservation movement, and conservation is working to increase their numbers every year. They are endangered, not critically endangered or functionally extinct. They need help; they're not inevitably knocking at death's door.
Debate Round No. 3


First of all, I would like to address the weakest argument that side opposition has put forth so far - That humans too have slow reproductive rates and hence we should save the pandas. Absolutely not. Us humans have innumerable other adapted features that makes us extremely dominant as a species... of these include - larger neocortex for better reasoning, capacity to form amazing models of our reality via consciousness, our flexible nature that allows us to adapt in many situations, our intelligence and the list is endless. My opponent's example simply does not apply and is only a result of flawed logic. In addition, there are numerous other reasons that the Pandas are a weak species that I have listed and side opposition has chosen to ignore.

In my opinion, the numbers and statics presented are not impressive at all - especially when you look at them in the right context. Several trillion dollars spent to result to a mere 2000 members of a weak species?( for now, we can resolve that they are weak, considering side oppositions failure to prove otherwise) That does not sound like a very fit species to any respected biologist.

Side oppositions explanation of why their diet is inefficient does not prove anything other than the fact that it is, indeed, inefficent. It does not aim to rebut one of the main weak points of the panda and in fact, defending side proposition.

Opposition claims that it is economically viable to save the pandas without proving to us, through any logical explanation or example to why this is so. How is it more economically efficient than saving a rainforest? Is really worth spending trillions of dollars globally and annually on a single species that is in fact so weak?


ModusTollens forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Nyx999 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Wait, Raya, conservatives aren't the ones trying to save the pandas. Liberals are. Actually, almost everybody wants to save the pandas, but the ones who object are usually conservatives.
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: neither side gave very convincing arguments to me, but con's last round forfeit does warrant pro getting the conduct points. con was the only one who used sources in his arguments though so source points to the con