Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Giant Pandas May Hold the Key to Killing Superbugs

"Giant Pandas may be a rich source of powerful new antibiotic drugs, scientists have discovered." (The Telegraph, Simon Gray, 30 Dec 2012)
 
According to The Telegraph, scientists have discovered that Giant Pandas produce a powerful antibiotic in their blood stream that kills bacteria and fungi. The substance, known as cathelicidin-AM, is released by the animal’s immune system to protect them from infections when they are living in the wild. Scientists believe that the antibiotic could be used to create potent new treatments against drug-resistant superbugs and other diseases. Dr. Xiuwen Yan, who led the research at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China, said, “It showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains.”
Fortunately, scientists won’t have to rely on the mere 1,600 giant pandas in the wild to produce this antibiotic. The researchers have been able to synthesize it artificially in the lab by decoding the genes to produce a small molecule known as a peptide.
“Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms,” said Dr. Yan. “They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.”
Another promising fact is that cathelicidin-AM, which is produced by immune cells in the animal’s blood, was found to kill bacteria in less than an hour while other well known antibiotics took more than six hours.
The researchers hope to develop the substance either as a new drug to tackle superbugs or as an antiseptic for cleaning surfaces and utensils. Dr Yan and his colleagues also believe the panda genome may be hiding other potentially powerful drugs.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Steiff + Pandas = Perfect!




A brief history: 

In Germany during the latter part of the nineteenth century, Margarete Steiff founded what became the most famous name associated with Teddy Bears. She was born in 1847, but contracted polio as a very young child and this resulted in her being confined to a wheelchair. By the late 1800s she had a substantial business with numerous employees and out-workers, selling her little felt toys.


Margarete produced the first ever jointed bears in 1902, utilizing the designs of her nephew, Richard Steiff. These early bears were made of mohair, stuffed with wood wool and had boot button eyes. The limbs were long and the pads were of felt. Richard then displayed these new bears during the Leipzig Toy Fair, 1903, unfortunately yielding little European based interest. However, it was towards the end of the fair where George Borgfeldt, of New York, took particular interest in Richard Steiff's teddy bears, consequently placing a substantial order and marking a real turning point for the company. In 1904, the famous Steiff button in the ear was developed as their trademark. When still present on old bears, these help in many ways to identify the age of the bear.By 1907 the company was international, with over two thousand workers and producing near two million toys each year.




[The website 'Steiff Shop' provides a much more comprehensive chronology detailing Steiff's history, have a read by clicking HERE!

Categorizing the contemporary Steiff collection: 

Original Collection - Every original Steiff animal with the world-famous trademark, the Steiff "Button in Ear", shows that it comes from one of the best families - and every Steiff Teddy bear and Steiff animal proudly wears an ear tag as a clearly recognisable identification. Both big and small Steiff fans immediately recognise the yellow Steiff ear tag with red writing. It shows that this is one of the many, wonderful animals and Teddy bears from the wide, unlimited Steiff assortment - an unmistakable original from the famous company with a long-standing tradition. 

Limited Edition - All the animals and Teddy bears at Steiff are very pleased ti receive the extraordinary distinction of the white ear tag with red writing because these are produced in a limited edition. This means that only a limited number is available and some are available only in certain countries. Each of these limited edition Steiff animals wth the white ear tag and the gold-plated "Button in Ear" also brings his new owner a certificate that insures the authenticity and special status as a limited edition Steiff  animal. 

Replica - The Teddy bears and animals of the replica series by Steiff are a very special and extraordinary species. This means that these true-to-original animals are reproduced exactly according to their historic role models from the Steiff product history. All Steiff replicas have a white ear tag with black writing the document their special status and the true-to-original "Button in Ear" from the retrospective year of production. This outstanding distinction lets Steiff friends, fans and collectors know that this is a particularly limited edition Steiff animal with extraordinary, historic character.

Steiff and the 'Panda Baer'

Steiff's first Panda Bear was born in 1938, produced in 15cm and 30cm sizes through until 1942. Notably, due to the fact Steiff pandas had flat, broad feet (a feature uncharacteristic of most other Steiff bear designs), the primary panda populace were able to stand on their own.  

The enthusiasm with which the first panda was met spurred Steiff to produce more once the factory reopened in the late 1940s. However, this initial pre-war panda was only produced in 30cm though 1950. In 1951 the design was updated and started producing it in 15, 22, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm. The company used a suede-like grey rubber material instead of felt on this panda’s paws and soles from 1956 onward. This newer panda pattern, also a collector’s favorite, was in the line until 1961.




Steiff baby panda (15cm), 1950s - £350
For sale at Sue Pearson: Bears & Bygones. Follow the link HERE!

Currently available from Steiff: 
'Pummy' Masterpiece Panda - £201.95
A Steiff Limited Edition, bearing the extraordinary distinction of white ear and gold plated "button in ear"tag, a marker of the products exclusivity, and made from luxurious alpaca wool.

Masterpiece Edition - The very best of the best. This is what Steiff strives for when they create the Masterpiece Editions. Only the most experienced, talented craftsmen are allowed to work on these special pieces. That's how Steiff are able to achieve such a high level of quality and realism. And Steiff believe their new Panda Masterpiece edition is one of the finest they've produced so far. Just look at his delightful face! His smile is guaranteed to make you smile! Made from luxurious alpaca, this black and white beauty is weighted with pellets to make him especially huggable. His feet and paw pads are individually stitched for added authenticity. For collectors of the Masterpiece Series and lovers of pandas, this is truly the ultimate Steiff collectible. 

EAN NUMBER:036590
Colour:Black/ White
Size:37cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Surface Washable
Special notes:Limited Edition, Limited to 2,000 pieces Worldwide, Jointed

Teddy Bear Panda - £141.95
A Steiff Limited Edition, bearing the extraordinary distinction of white ear and gold plated "button in ear"tag, a marker of the products exclusivity, and made from luxurious alpaca wool.

EAN NUMBER:036538
Colour:Black/ White
Size:26cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Surface Washable
Special notes:Limited Edition, Limited to 2008, Jointed


Alpaca Panda with Bamboo - £65.00
A Steiff Limited Edition, bearing the extraordinary distinction of white ear and gold plated "button in ear" tag, a marker of the products exclusivity, and made from luxurious alpaca wool.

EAN NUMBER:037313
Colour:Black/ White
Size:10 cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Surface Washable
Special notes:Limited Edition, 3000 pieces. 

Alpaca Panda Ted - £39.00
 A member of the 'Bear Teds' range, and made from luxurious alpaca wool, this jointed, life-like 'panda ted' also bears the world famous trademark, yellow tag, 'button in ear', red writing, which provides instant authenticity.

EAN NUMBER:
039423
Colour:
Black/ White
Size:
10 cm
Age Range:
3 years and upwards
Washable:
Surface Washable

Jointed Panda - £123.95
Part of the Steiff Original Collection, made of the natural and beautiful fibre mohair (itself used in the production of Steiff animals and Teddy bears since 1901) and bearing the world famous trademark, yellow tag, 'button in ear', red writing, which provides instant authenticity. 

EAN NUMBER:039690
Colour:Black/White
Size:35cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Surface Washable


Manschli Panda - £39.95
Part of the Steiff Original Collection, made of cuddly plush for baby soft skin and bearing the world famous trademark, yellow tag, 'button in ear', red writing, which provides instant authenticity. 
EAN NUMBER:064784
Colour:Black and White
Size:25cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Machine washable at 30C
Lying Manschli Panda - £27.95
Part of the Steiff Original Collection, made of cuddly soft woven fur and bearing the world famous trademark, yellow tag, 'button in ear', red writing, which provides instant authenticity. 

EAN NUMBER:280139
Colour:Black
Size:22cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Machine washable at 30C
Manschli Riding Panda - £384.95
Part of the Steiff Original Collection, made of cuddly soft woven fur and bearing the world famous trademark, yellow tag, 'button in ear', red writing, which provides instant authenticity. 
EAN NUMBER:048975
Colour:Black/ White
Size:70cm
Age Range:3 years and upwards
Washable:Surface Washable

Panda on Wheels (1938) - £369.00
The hearty panda with the cuddly soft fur made of finest mohair, firm stuffing made of wood shavings, glass eyes and his impressive pull-string voice is another wonderful piece in the Steiff pull-toy animal series that found its way to the court of King Wilhelm II in 1911. The panda on wheels proudly "bears" the underscored ,"Button in Ear" made of patinated steel and rolls in a Limited Edition of 1,000 pieces into the hearts of his fans. 

EAN NUMBER:
400452
Colour:
Black/ White
Size:
50cm
Age Range:
3 years and upwards
Washable:
Surface Washable
Special notes:
Limited Edition, Limited to 1,000 pieces Worldwide

Sources:

Margaret Fox Mandel, Teddy Bears & Steiff Animals, (Collector Books, U.S., 1984


"Giant panda victim of bad weather" - Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

A wild giant panda drowned amid heavy rain in Sichuan Province, according to local forestry authorities.

Local villagers carry the body of a wild giant panda which drowned amid heavy rain in the township of Yingxiu in south-west China's Sichuan province on July 5, 2011
An examination by veterinarians from the Wolong Nature Reserve in the county did not find any obvious external wounds on the male panda that was likely around 10 years old.
The autopsy found a considerable amount of water in the animal's lungssaid Zhang Heminchief of the reserve's administrative bureau.
He said the results of the autopsy, coupled with the circumstances of the panda's discovery, led him to rule out the possibility that humans had killed the animal.
He said it is probable that it drowned in the recent rainstorms and was washed out of its habitat into the Yingxiu section of the Minjiang Rivera tributary of the Yangtze River.
Vets believe the panda had been dead for two or three days when it was found in Zipingpu Reservoirwhich is fed by the Minjiang River.
The animal was found by a villager from Yingxiu who was checking his cornfields on Tuesday morningaccording to the Sichuan provincial department of forestry.
Recent rainstorms and mudslides have wreaked havoc in many of Sichuan's nature reservesdamaging vegetation and infrastructure in both the Wolong and Anzihe reservesthe department said.
It promised to patrol sites affected by mudslides and offer timely help to wild animalsincluding pandas.
According to the State Forestry Administrationabout 1,600 pandas live in the wild worldwide.
The rainstorms and mudslides have taken their toll on humansIn Sichuan, 29,000 households have been without power since Monday as a result of heavy rain that lashed Wangcang countysaid a county government spokesman.
The weather has damaged all 20 schools in the county and 130 square meters of school buildings have completely collapsed while another 9,560 sq m are in danger of collapsinghe said.
Three residents from the county were reported missing after the rainstorms.

Friday, 27 May 2011

'Giant Panda Project Update' - Edinburgh Zoo's official press release

As previously documented, pandimonium has been persistant in Edinburgh Zoo's panda project, the countdown to the arrival of two special guests being marred by uncertainity, criticsm and speculation (particularly, it seems, by Scottish national press). HOWEVER, in an active attack against opposition parties, RZSS issued an affirmative statement, calling for speculation to be quelled, as "it is very much business as usual on plans to bring a pair of breeding pandas to Edinburgh Zoo later this year."

The statement reads as follows (or to view at source click HERE):
"The agreement to bring the pandas to Edinburgh was signed at the highest level by the RZSS and our priority is to ensure that everything is in place for their arrival. Our teams of highly qualified and committed keepers, conservation and operational staff are fully advanced in developing all aspects of the project. The new enclosure is well underway and our research collaboration with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association is agreed. We will be welcoming a delegation from China, possibly in May, when we will be showing them the enclosure and finalising details for the pandas’ transportation and acclimatisation at Edinburgh Zoo. Around the same time, a team from Edinburgh Zoo will be going back out to China to continue the process of learning more about panda behaviour and care from the experts at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya’an where Tian Tian and Yang Guang are now being cared for.
 
The Giant Panda Project is important not just for Edinburgh Zoo, but for Scotland and, indeed, the UK. Recent internal issues at the Zoo have no bearing on the operational aspects of the Giant Panda project. Edinburgh Zoo remains committed to delivering the world-class collaboration that we have agreed with China and we will continue to liaise closely with the Chinese authorities at every level."

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Lost images: 2010

F.A.C.T: all pandas do love Chris.


A homemade ink-on-foot homage...

As pandas are sweet they might as well deodourize...

A little known tidbit: a pandas natural scent will negate any unwanted wiff!

Why, ever, need go barefoot....?