China's Secret Weapon
We bet no one at Hill & Knowlton is smart enough to suggest this, but if the Chinese government really wants to endear itself to the rest of the world, it should kick the dopey Panda to the curb and adopt the Red Panda as the country's new national animal. Native to Southern China (and also-hello!-to Tibet), the Red Panda looks less like a bear and more like a raccoon or a cat; despite its name, its actual relationship to the familiar Giant Panda seems quite distant. An engangered species, the Red Panda simply happens to be the world's cutest animal, and we all know how powerful cuteness can be as an inducement to forgive or overlook various transgressions. Naturally, the Japanese, with their unsurpassed connoisseurship of cuteness, understand the Red Panda's appeal-an episode of "Genius! Shimura Zoo", in which the supercute Japanese hostess Becky is forced to share her apartment with a pair of mischievous Red Pandas stands as one of the signal achievements in the culture of kawaii. The Red Panda is also commonly referred to as the Lesser Panda-to which all we can say is: Please.