Clumsy Meng the panda charms with human-like expressions

A viral video of a giant panda named Meng Aor, which translates to Clumsy Meng, at a Chinese zoo has captured the hearts of viewers worldwide. The panda’s peculiar facial expressions every time it breaks bamboo stalks led to initial assumptions of its naivety, but further insights into its upbringing reveal a touching backstory of imitation and learning.

Meng Aor, residing at the Beijing Zoo, exhibits a human-like grimace as it snaps bamboo stalks, stretches its mouth, bares its teeth, and extends its arms as if to protect its face from the snapping bamboo. This behavior, uncommon among pandas, sparked a mix of amusement and concern among viewers.

Many found the panda’s actions endearing, while others speculated about its intelligence due to the exaggerated expressions that seemed unnecessary for an act as simple as breaking bamboo—a routine task for pandas.

The truth behind Meng Aor’s unique habit emerged as a poignant example of animal behavior influenced by human interaction. Raised by zookeepers in the absence of its mother, Meng Aor learned life skills from its human caregivers.

Observing the zoo staff break tough and fibrous bamboo with visible effort, Meng Aor mimicked their expressions, internalising them as part of the bamboo-breaking process. This learned behavior, a testament to the panda’s observational learning capabilities, became an ingrained habit that continued into its current age of ten years.

Born at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Meng Aor returned to Beijing Zoo in 2014. Through the years, Meng Aor’s imitative expressions have not only provided comedic relief but also sparked a wider conversation about the impact of human upbringing on animals in captivity.

The panda’s story has resonated with audiences far beyond the zoo’s visitors, illustrating the intricacies of animal behavior and the bonds that can form across species. As Meng Aor continues to delight and intrigue with its unique bamboo-breaking technique, it serves as a reminder of the profound influence human care can have on the animals we seek to protect.


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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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