Paula, the Pandapoly Proprietor, was going through a rough time in her life in summer 2005. The end of a relationship meant a move across the country to the Washington, DC area and many new life changes. Around that same time, a little cub named Tai Shan was born, providing a new obsession for local residents who had gone through the heartbreak of losing Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing’s five cubs, who lived no more than a few days. And with the Panda Cam, the rest of the world could also watch Mei Xiang's and Tian Tian’s first cub grow up.
The 24/7 access provided by the Panda Cam meant that Paula could be cheered up any time it was needed, because after all, you can't look at a baby panda and feel anything but happy! One thing led to another: Paula met someone who indulged her obsession with zoos and pandas; she became a volunteer Asia Trail interpreter at the National Zoo where she can introduce guests around the world to Tai, Mei and Tian; and she joined the Flickr group Pandas Unlimited, where she found even more panda-obsessed individuals from around the world. In her day job, she produced the content for an award-winning website until the organization lost its funding.
This year, she has traveled to Zoo Atlanta for Mei Lan’s first birthday, to the Memphis Zoo to visit Ya Ya and Le Le for the first time, and will plan her trip to the San Diego Zoo as soon as the new cub is on display to the public. Next up: a visit to Madrid to see the new royal couple there. A volunteer trip to Wolong will have to wait, but hopefully not for too long.
Pandapoly is an effort to combine top-quality and current informational content with the fun and joy of giant pandas. Call it making an obsession useful, if you will. Please let us know if you would like to help make Pandapoly even better – or create a similar website for whatever your obsession may be.