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Giant Panda
Ancient China:  Giant Panda's roam the land giving birth to legends and poems in China's emerging culture.  One of the legends is how the Panda got its coloring.  “It begins with the panda as a totally white bear. One day a little girl happened to run across a white panda and a leopard fighting. Trying to save the defenseless panda she charged the leopard with a large bamboo shoot, striking him over and over again. The leopard was not hurt by the bamboo and turned on the little girl instead. This act of bravery saved the panda's life but the little girl lost hers in the struggle.  All the white pandas held a funeral in honor of the brave little girl and wore black armbands as a sign of mourning. The black dye of the armbands, moistened by many tears from the pandas, began to run. When the pandas wiped their eyes, the armband left black marks. When the pandas consoled each other by hugging, the dye left black spots on their backs. When they covered their ears to block out the sound of crying, the black dye colored their ears. “

A written history of the Xizhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC) described the Giant Panda, or “Pixiu,” as an invincible animal, as strong as a tiger.  This description was repeated in the Shijin, the first written collection of poems prepared at about the same time.  This sentiment regarding the prowess of the panda may explain, in part, why panda pelts were offered as tribute to emperors and kings of the day.  Another reference to the Giant Panda or Zouya was as a gentle animal, since it was never observed to hurt man or beast. The panda became a symbol of peace.  In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), the panda was described as having great medicinal value. Detailed in a medical tome, the panda's pelt was believed to have a magical influence that could repel plague and prevent tumors.  Drinking panda urine was thought to dissolve impurities.  
The Giant Panda is also an animal of philosophical importance in Chinese culture.  The Giant Panda is thought to be a physical manifestation of the Yin and the Yang, as its body is both black and white, the two colors standing in stark contrast to one another on the animals pelt.  The placid nature of the panda is a demonstration of how the Yin and the Yang, when perfectly balanced, contribute to harmony and peace.
Today the Giant Panda is revered as a symbol of peace, friendship, and good luck.    

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