Step Right Up and Get Your Panda Souvenir!

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Or, on second thought, don’t. The following is from the Beijing based Global Environmental Institute….

Panda Dung Makes ‘Green’ Souvenir

Ling Li – August 7, 2007 – 5:00am

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The Research and Breeding Center for Giant Pandas in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, is offering a new line of panda-themed souvenirs made from the animals’ manure, Chengdu Daily reported. The center, home to some 60 giant pandas, has launched a program that enables it to recycle hundreds of tons of excrement from its residents annually into handicrafts, paper, and even bamboo carbon. The locally made handicrafts, which include puppets, fans, and brush pots and combine regional cultural features with images of China’s “national treasure,” have caught the eyes of many panda-loving tourists, the Daily reported.
The innovative souvenirs have created a new source of income for the center, which used to spend between 5,000 and 8,000 yuan (US$662–1059) a month treating the pandas’ waste. The products are officially titled “green handicrafts made from panda dung” because of their environmentally friendly features, and some even retain the smell of fresh bamboo, the giant panda’s major food source.

Panda excrement is typically odor-free, as the animals mainly eat various species of bamboo. Through a complicated 12-step process that includes sifting, crumbling, drying, and disinfecting the excrement and adding special ingredients, the center makes the manure suitable for crafting souvenirs. The fiber-rich manure can also be used to make paper that is perfect for traditional Chinese paintings, as well as to produce bamboo carbon that is used mainly for air and water purification.
The idea first came from a zoo in Thailand that recycled the waste from its pandas and elephants to make souvenirs for tourists. But the Chengdu panda center is the first organization in China that has developed such a business. It is said to be preparing a series of athletic-themed panda handicrafts for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

China Watch is a joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute (GEI)