We have read the enlightening NY Times article about how pandas in U.S. zoos are like money pits, though adorable ones. The reason is because China leases the each panda to zoos for $2 million (in "panda cost and research"). And then there are the habitats the zoos must build, plus the expensive diets they have - oh, and if there's a baby, that's another $600,000 per year. The director of the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation in the U.S., David Towne, even says, "I've told my mayor [of Seattle] and everyone else that the last thing we want is pandas," and more blasphemous words were not said. The article is fascinating for the economic perspective of what pandas giveth and taketh away, but we'd also like the Freakonomics guys to get on the panda bandwagon and break it down.

Okay, so maybe Gothamist knows why pandas might not come to NYC ever. But we can dream, can't we? Maybe when the Chinese government decides to lower the rental price of pandas.

Photograph of Tai "Butterstick" Shan and his mother Mei Xiang at the National Zoo from information leafblower on Flickr; check out his Butterstick photos