The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) was not known outside Tibet until March 23, 1869, when native hunters brought a French missionary and naturalist Perè Armand David a dead specimen. In 1914, German zoologist Hugo Weigold became the first Westerner to see a giant panda alive in the wild. Soon museums were sending off expeditions to obtain a specimen for their collections.
Yet nature does not always yield her secrets easily, anthropologist George Agogino observed in 1961, pointing to the example of the giant panda as an object lesson for both cryptozoologists and those who would decry their quest. “From 1869 until 1929, a period of sixty years, a dozen well-staffed and well-equipped professional zoological collecting teams unsuccessfully sought an animal the size of a small bear in a restricted area,” Agogino wrote. “The giant panda lives in the same general area and at the same general elevation (six thousand to twelve thousand feet) as the Yeti, yet this animal remained hidden for over sixty years.”
In 1929, the first Western hunters to kill a giant panda were two sons of a former President, Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt, who shot one out of a hollow pine tree. Finally, eight years later, Ruth Harkness and Gerald Russell brought out the first live giant panda. It took sixty-seven years from the time of the giant panda’s Western “discovery” until its live capture.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark