Summit Up 12-23-10: Where alpacas get a big, fat ‘f’ |

Summit Up 12-23-10: Where alpacas get a big, fat ‘f’

by Summit Up
In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, a panda researcher dressed up as a giant panda to prevent a four-month-old panda cub from seeing human shape carries the panda cub in a box before it is released into the wild at Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Centre in Wolong, in southwest China's Sichuan province. Panda researchers in the province are working to reintroduce giant pandas into the wild within 15 years, after successfully breeding them in captivity. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that would like to take a break from all this Christmas hoo-hah to talk about one of our favorite topics: animals – and, more specifically, grading animals by how cool or lame they are.

Yep, after a recent Summit Up column about a critter called a honey badger, one of our compatriots over at the Vail Daily sent us a link to a very interesting blog at (also turned into a book titled “The Animal Review” by blog authors Jacob Lentz and Steve Nash. The basic idea is to take a look at various animals and give them grades. The T-Rex and the king cobra both get an “A+” for obvious reasons (they kick ass, mostly); whereas the panda gets an “F.”

Why is that?

“Pandas have absolutely no interest in reproducing,” Lentz told NPR. “They rarely mate. That goes against the raison d’etre of a species.”

He has a point. Isn’t there some old adage about helping those who help themselves? If pandas can’t even be bothered to do the thing, well, what’s the point?

“We spend all this money flying these animals around the world, trying to convince them to mate, and we could spend it on a lot of other stuff,” Lentz said, adding that the bamboo diet is inappropriate.

“Their bodies are not adapted to digest cellulose, but they hang in there with the bamboo. They don’t have a lot of energy to do things, like to mate.”

As you can see in the above photo, pandas are also easily spooked. Look at the great lengths one has to go through just to be around them. You wouldn’t see that over at the king cobra or T-Rex exhibit (if there was one). In fact, if you tried to insult a king cobra by wearing a king cobra outfit around him, he’d probably give you an extra measure of venom as he bites into your neck.

And let’s be honest: Pandas really are too damn cute for their own good. They’re the animal world equivalent of a schmaltzy book like “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or music from the Carpenters.

But enough panda dissing – what are some other animal rankings?

Octopus – A: “We gave the octopus an A because it would make a great superhero. They’re supersmart, they can solve puzzles, they can remember things.”

Golden Dart Frog – A-: “Animal Review is more than willing to award a grade of A to any animal that can instantly kill whatever eats/kisses/touches it, out of awe of Mother Nature (and also fear).”

Sidewinder Rattle Snake – A: “… a triumph of American engineering and can-do ingenuity whose method of locomotion across hot and shifting desert sands of the southwestern United States1 (and its infrared sensory organs) made it a perfect model for the premiere short-range air-to-air heat-seeking missile in the US arsenal.”

Alpacas – F: “Between the generally creepy appearance, suspect breeding, alleged pyramid schemes, and allowing an ancient empire to be defeated in an afternoon, alpacas have a lot to answer for.”

There you have it.


OK, this just in: Some folks want everyone to vote for Brett Esser as “Paul Mitchell Breakthrough Athlete of the Year,” and you can do so at We just did it and it was easy! Brett, who’s a kick-booty snowboarder and a senior at Summit High, could win a $5,000 sponsorship for next year, so help him out and vote!

Gotta run, folks. Have a mostly thrilling Thursday.

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