No More Welfare Pandas

Giant Panda IMGP2918_1

I’m the type of guy who scours the Craigslist “Free” section for all sorts of things I can put to good use. Let’s face it – sometimes the best treasures are not the ones you spend a fortune on but the ones you stumble upon by accident.

While browsing the ads for free stuff, I often see people trying to get rid of bamboo, which grows so well in this climate. Folks sometimes open their yards to anyone with an axe or machete to come take the godforsaken tall grass away. Sure it looked pretty at first and the idea of a meditation garden in the back yard sounded great at the time, but the reality of wild grass you can’t mow or kill loses its magic pretty darned fast when it encroaches on the rest of the yard.

It occurred to me recently that we have a partial solution to this problem of bamboo right here in the Capital District. If those giant pandas at the National Zoo are simply living off our tax money, draining the public coffers of much-needed funds for wars, secret prisons, congressional pay increases and other such necessities, doesn’t it make sense that they start earning their keep?

We could easily rent these cute guys out for yard-clearing purposes. They are currently being fed over 50 pounds of bamboo per day, according to the Zoo’s web site. Most of that bamboo is purchased from a farm in Maryland. Just imagine if that food came from our neighbors’ backyards.

All that money saved plus the revenue from the work done could help keep the pandas in the bling and comfort they have come to expect. How much could we charge to parade our pandas to a yard and have them feast until they are filled? Market forces will determine this price, but anyone who has tried to clear a bamboo field will tell you that it is not easy or quick work. The added bonus and social capital from hiring pandas could sweeten the pot for those with enough money.

If this catches on, I can see a wonderful business going to offset the costs these animals incur. The one problem I foresee is whether or not the District will start a guest worker program that will enable the older one to be employed.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Carl Weaver is a writer and brewer for and has been making beer and wine for more than 20 years. He is also an avid photographer and writer and just finished his first book, about a trip he took to Thailand to live in Buddhist monasteries. He considers himself the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest darned guy in the world. Follow him on Twitter.

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