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Do pandas really exist? People have hatched a new conspiracy on Tiktok IV News

Do pandas really exist? People have hatched a new conspiracy on Tiktok

Few animals are as cute (and protected) as the giant panda. But while this species holds the status of a “national treasure” in China, its existence is currently being questioned on TikTok. Some users of the forum claim that pandas are not real. So what is with this conspiracy theory that fascinates the younger generation? Their cute, furry bodies, big eyes and clumsy walks make giant pandas especially endearing. It is no surprise that the black and white bear has become a symbol of environmental protection, as well as a national symbol of China, the only country where the species still lives in the wild.

While this species has not been considered endangered since 2016, some Internet users say it never was. They go even further, in fact, claiming that these mammals never existed before, and are really only males wearing panda suits or bears in black and white. This conspiracy theory is particularly popular on TikTok, where the hashtag #pandasnotreal has garnered over 6.2 million views.

Platform users who subscribe to this conspiracy theory are attracted to several surprising facts about the giant panda. The first concerns their diet. This carnivorous species has become exclusively herbivorous after a genetic mutation. Their diet is essentially made up of bamboo, which they gnaw on with their opposable “pseudo thumbs” and their powerful jaws.

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Another confusing aspect by internet users is that pandas face issues when it comes to reproducibility. Continuity of species is like an uphill battle. Pairs can breed only a few days a year, between February 15 and March 30, during which period the female panda is only fertile for 48 hours. Men are also reluctant to breed… and these disadvantages raise questions among TikTok users. “Pandas are so bad at life that they can’t even mate without intervention. A basic animal instinct is to naturally know how to get it, and they can’t,” said an internet user named @that_pearl_witch Is said.

fight the absurd

This conspiracy theory about pandas not being there is actually not new. As Rolling Stone points out, the Reddit forum has hosted discussions on this topic since 2015. “I’m fairly certain the pandas are just a very elaborate hoax,” reads one such musical. To which another user replies: “I swear it’s true. Somehow all the pandas of America died here and people were dressed in suits to maintain relations with China.

The resurgence of this fantasy about giant pandas reflects the fact that young people, especially teenagers, are ideal targets for anyone spreading conspiracy theories. “They are more permeable because of exposure bias, simply because they get more information on social networks. We know there is a correlation between these informational uses – the fact of finding information on social networks, on online video platforms such as YouTube — and a greater tendency to follow a larger number of conspiracy theories,” Rudy Reichstedt, founder of the site Conspiracy Watch.info, told FranceInfo in 2021.

However, some young internet users are protesting, taking to the web to express their dismay at the conspiratorial leanings of today’s society. For example, the “Birds Are Not Real” movement, founded in 2017 by an American named Peter McIndoe, seeks to combat misinformation with the absurd. It made headlines last year after infiltrating an anti-abortion protest in Cincinnati, Ohio. The group’s parody slogan, which claims birds have been replaced by drones since the 1970s, for covert surveillance purposes, overshadowed the message of pro-life activists. If only the Panda conspiracy theory had a single mission of sorts…

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