Everyone knows that pandas are cute. Very few people know firsthand how cute pandas are in quantity. Only 12 pandas exist in the United States, rented from the Chinese government for $1 million per year apiece (and some extra fees) and spread out among four zoos. The world's other zoos outside China hold only two dozen or so more. When glimpsed by visitors, these pandas are usually on their own, making themselves scarce behind tree stumps or chewing resignedly on bamboo. At best we see a mother panda with her cub.
Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor of Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel, where she remains a contributing editor.