China stupidly gifts 2 giant pandas to Qatar to celebrate World Cup

China decided to gift to Qatar a couple of giant pandas from the Sichuan province, the home of giant pandas. The gift is designed to mark the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 which is being held from November 20 to December 18. The Chinese ambassador to Qatar made the announcement during a reception in Doha. It was the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

He said:

“This is a gift presented by the 1.4 billion Chinese people for the Qatar World Cup and will surely become a new symbol of China-Qatar friendship.”

The giant pandas will be transported to the Al Khor Park. This is Qatar’s oldest and largest zoo covering around 250,000 m². It is a few minutes’ drive away from the city. It opened in 1983 and is expanding. It’s a success story commercially.

Giant pandas like it cool
Giant pandas like it cool. Qatar is bloody hot. How will it work? Image: Mingxi Li.

But here is the big point which is not mentioned by the news media except for me! Qatar has a desert climate. The country experiences long summers from May to September during which temperatures can rise above 45°C. This is intense dry heat for a long period, but winter temperatures are mild.

However, Qatar is suffering from global warming with dramatically increased temperatures since around the early 1990s. The average annual mean temperature of Qatar in the 2020s is approaching 30°C. It is a hot country as we all know.

In the wild, there’s a direct correlation between the presence of pandas and the climatic temperature. They avoid hot areas. The temperature range preferred by giant pandas is 18-21°C. Global warming is affecting their habitat and there are recommendations to move them to a cooler area. Climate change may severely affect giant panda survivability in the long term.

My research indicates that giant pandas experience heat stress when temperatures climb above 25°C (77°F). An expert, James Spotila PhD, a professor at the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science at Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences said:

“They have to live at temperatures below 25°C to stay healthy. In nature they actively seek out cool areas (micro-habitats) in summer and move to higher elevations to avoid heat”.

How is Qatar going to keep their two giant pandas cool? Are they going to keep them in an air-conditioned room? That’s not going to be a good life, is it? And when they let them outside into an open area of their enclosure, they are going to be far too hot and so they will come inside. This means that, in effect, they will be living inside most of the time until the cooler season arrives, but I have mentioned that the average temperature is nearly 30°C which is well above the high temperature limit acceptable by giant pandas.

How is this going to work? It is a stupid gift entirely disconnected from the welfare and health of these animals. This does not surprise me. It is a human-centric gift without concern for animal welfare. China has no animal welfare laws. The government of China is unconcerned about animal welfare, and this is another example of how that point is proved.

The gift actually also underlines the corruption behind awarding Qatar the World Cup. We all know about the corruption which ended up placing this massive sporting event in a country that is too hot. The football season in the UK has been moved in order to accommodate this corrupt decision.

Qatar will become hotter and hotter as global warming progresses and one day I expect it to become uninhabitable unless everybody lives indoors with air conditioning which will fuel more global warming in a downward cycle.

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