A clip from BLACKPINK‘s latest reality program has drawn in 2.5 million views since it dropped yesterday, as the girls were seen hugging adorable baby pandas. But it’s trending in China for a whole different reason.
According to C-netizens and officials, the BLACKPINK members were endangering the baby panda and violating strict regulations in the video—and now the Chinese government’s forestry administration is getting involved.
This week, BLACKPINK released the preview clip for their final episode of the reality show 24/365 with BLACKPINK. The clip shows all four members heading to the Everland theme park and zoo to spend time with the resident giant pandas.
Alongside making a meal for the mother panda, they also got to cuddle up to a precious 3-month-old cub named Fubao.
However, while many fans found the preview simply adorable, criticism of the clip soon went viral across social media in China. According to Chinese netizens and officials, the show depicts “endangerment” of the baby panda.
While baby Fubao was born in South Korea this year, he doesn’t belong to the Korean zoo. The Chinese government actually owns almost every giant panda in the world, and zoos across the world simply rent them. Panda loan costs run up to $1 million USD per year on 10-year “panda diplomacy” contracts, and foreign zoos must pay an additional $400,000 USD tax for any baby cubs born in their care.
Since the pandas at Everland’s Panda World belong to China, the zoo is expected to follow strict regulations to protect the bears from any illnesses. One of these rules mandates that members of the public must not touch the pandas or come into close contact with them in any way. According to the Chinese State Forestry Administration, allowing non-professionals to touch the pandas increases their risk of contracting a zoonotic infection.
On top of that, the rules state that people with pets should not come into close contact with the pandas in order to further prevent the spread of disease. Back in 2015, several pandas died of canine distemper—a virus found in domestic dogs. Since giant pandas are currently considered endangered, the Chinese government considers their welfare to be of the utmost importance.
The fact that the BLACKPINK members were not professional caretakers were not the only cause for concern by the Chinese netizens. Most of the members are known to have multiple dogs and cats at home. As a result, an outcry erupted among Chinese netizens shortly after the 24/365 with BLACKPINK preview dropped on YouTube. One news post about the incident on Weibo garnered over 25 million video views, 800,000 likes, and 10,000 comments in around 15 hours.
Commenters also pointed out that the members were wearing makeup and perfume and did not have gloves on at the time, further violating the strict care regarding the pandas.
It’s BLACKPINK, the girl group that’s under the famous Chinese-insulting agency YG. [+54,000]
Giving such a weak baby panda to people who are wearing makeup and perfume…the zoo and the agency are both dead. [+27,000]
Many are criticizing BLACKPINK for the incident as the members were the ones touching the panda, insisting they face scrutiny. However, several Chinese netizens also acknowledge that YG Entertainment staff and Everland zookeepers are ultimately at fault for not following the rules they should have been aware of.
Be rational while you idolize these celebrities, OK? They touched the panda…what do you mean ‘it doesn’t have anything to do with them’? This is making me laugh so hard, how about I slap you and say it doesn’t have anything to do with me? It’s true that BLACKPINK didn’t know, and it’s right that the caretakers are the main cause, but if this results in the panda getting sick, BLACKPINK also can’t get away with it. They touched the panda, so don’t give them special rights just because they’re celebrities. Would you say the same thing if this happened with a non-celebrity? [+138,000]
The matter soon escalated as, according to news reports, the China Giant Panda Conservation & Research Center is now in the process of investigating the incident. As of right now, the potential penalty for Everland, YG Entertainment, and BLACKPINK are unknown, but the Chinese government has been known to withdraw pandas from overseas zoos in the past.
In order to prevent the incident from worsening, BLACKPINK’s Chinese fansite BLACKPINK Bar has reportedly contacted YG Entertainment asking them to withdraw the episode before it airs in full on YouTube. Many international BLINKs on social media are agreeing with the request, while others are urging Chinese netizens not to blame the BLACKPINK members for Everland Panda World’s actions.