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ScienceIamA Giant Panda Expert AMA!

Feb 16th 2017 by SmithsonianZoo • 33 Questions • 58 Points

EDIT: That was great!!!!! They are ripping the laptop away from me... throwing me into an unmarked SUV... and driving me do an undisclosed location for more questioning... wish me luck. You guys were great. Thanks for all the weirdness and meaningfulness. Peace.

-Josh

Hello Reddit! This is actor, filmmaker and Hunger Games co-star Josh Hutcherson!

I just directed a short film called ‘Ape’ as part of The Big Script, a film incubator that is developing emerging young writers and directors. It just came out today and you can watch 'Ape' and all of the films here: https://thescene.com/watch/presents/the-big-script-ape

Proof I'm me: http://imgur.com/a/VdInM

Q:

Are you an expert on giant sized pandas or are you a giant sized panda expert?

A:

If Peeta tried to fight you, could real life you take him down?


Q:

We are experts on giant pandas, though we tend to be bigger than we would like to be. –Bill McShea, ecologist

A:

fuck yeah!!! well... maybe not. I have a ferocious side that I can tap into.


Q:

What colour are baby giant pandas when they're born?

Zoe age 7.

A:

What was it like working with Mark Ruffalo?


Q:

Pink. Their color pattern appears after three weeks.—Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist

A:

Hes the best guy in the world. I love that human!


Q:

What's the best panda aphrodisiac?

A:

There's definitely a theme of dealing with mental health issues in your film. Is this something you've dealt with personally?


Q:

For males, it is a female giant panda's urine when she is in estrus. For female pandas, it's when she's ready (i.e. when she's in estrus).—Laurie Thompson, assistant curator of giant pandas

A:

There have been moments where I've questioned my mental state... haven't gone too far down that road but I think it's beyond interesting to try to empathize and deal with people who are dealing with those.


Q:

When did panda researchers learn about dietary needs? DC's original pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were fed bread, rice gruel, eggs and cereal, which current pandas are not.

A:

hi josh, I'm not very good at english so I can't write a good question but do you like mango?


Q:

When Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing came to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 1972 we quickly learned that that diet was inadequate. We switched the pandas to a bamboo-based diet.—Bill McShea, ecologist

A:

yes... im human. never trust someone who doesnt


Q:

What is the biggest scientific achievement or discovery that made reproductive efforts successful?

A:

Josh! Favorite 80's movie?


Q:

Non-invasive monitoring of the reproductive activity of the female, so we know exactly the best timing for conception (which could mean natural breeding or artificial insemination). We monitor Mei Xiang’s hormones through urine analysis.—Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist

A:

Lost Boys


Q:

Why aren't panda cubs born with intact umbilical cords like other mammals (or at least, humans)? Do these break during birth?

A:

Hi Josh,

You got second class treatment from Rosemary Telesco and continued with Katniss Everdeen. Does it hurt your feelings?


Q:

The umbilical cord breaks during the birth. —Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist

A:

hahaha.... life imitates art...


Q:

Will her brother also go back to China when he is older?

A:

Hi Josh!

You and I went to the same school, and you even lived in the same neighborhood as some of my close friends. We’ve never met because you always looked like you wanted privacy and I wanted to respect that, plus I’m a shy person who wouldn’t have known what to say. I’ve always wondered if you felt like you sort of missed out on your high-school experience, and if that impacted you on a social and mental level.

I’m trying to pursue my dream of becoming a published author, but sometimes I just feel like it’s never going to happen and that I’ll never be successful in the only thing that I’m passionate about. What advice would you give to someone who’s been told over and over again to give up their dream and focus on a more practical plan for their life?

Thanks for doing this AMA! It’s really awesome seeing someone from Union doing what they love!


Q:

Yes, he will move to China by the time he turns four, which is part of our agreement with our colleagues in China.—Michael Brown-Palsgrove, curator of giant pandas

A:

I think that going for something different in life is for sure the most important thing to do... FUCK THE HATERS!

Only you can stop yourself from going for it.

that should be on an inspirational cat poster...


Q:

Why do you think people love pandas so much? What causes so much pandamonium?

A:

What are the kind of things you learned while working your blockbuster role in "The Hunger Games Trilogy"?


Q:

Because they are beautiful. They are charismatic.—Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist.

We have a natural fear of large predators, but pandas come across as 1) good-looking 2) so good tempered 3) so laid back. We are almost surprised when we see them and we like being surprised in that way. It didn't hurt that they were so rare and needed our help. That resonated with all of us.—Bill McShea, ecologist

They look like giant teddy bears. People think they are cute and cuddly. But they are still bears.—Laurie Thompson, assistant curator of giant pandas

I think to many people pandas represent the wild and wilderness and it's no surprise that they are a symbol for conservation around the world. —Don Neiffer, chief veterinarian

Their eye patches draw you in.—Michael Brown-Palsgrove, curator giant pandas

A:

TEAMWORK. we had massive crews and it is not possible without all that.


Q:

So why do pandas only wanna eat somethin' that they themselves don't have the best "plumbing" to digest such a terrible source of nutrients?

A:

hey josh! the other night i was really high and felt like i was you. did you feel it too?

EDIT: okay guys this was fun but im clearly not actually dave franco, im a 23 year old canadian girl with evidently too much time on her hands. i have zero affiliation with dave franco and honestly don't know much about him this /u/ just happened to be open three years ago... anyway thanks for the 15 minutes (7 hours? idk) of fame.... but my watch has ended

EDIT 2: josh im sorry for hijacking your ama i love you lots bye


Q:

There are a lot of animals that don’t eat the most nutritious things out there. They eat things that are abundant. —Bill McShea, ecologist

The panda could eat meat if it were available. It has the digestive tract of a carnivore. But it is highly adapted to its environment and in its environment, bamboo is the most abundant resource.—Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist

A:

Wait... was that monday?? I felt something then...


Q:

[deleted]

A:

How do you go about choosing a script that you want to work on, both for this project and other professional work?


Q:

We cannot preserve pandas in a vacuum by themselves we can only preserve all the other plants and organisms that share that habitat with the pandas. Anthropogenic factors are big, and almost everything that is affecting them can be traced back to humans in some way, from habitat loss to poaching to disease transmission can be traced back to humans. Besides anthropogenic factors everything else is minor. Anything is possible, but not everything is desirable. So, we don’t want to biologically engineer them from another species. All bears have some combination of black and white. The pattern that giant pandas have is related to mate attraction or predator avoidance. There is no strange fear that is common to the species.—Bill McShea, ecologist

A:

I want originality. Characters that are bold and have clear voices. i also want to push the boundaries of what reality is.


Q:

What do you define as your first "big break" into acting and that business?

A:

For me my first ever job was personally my big break.. I was 9 and I held a goat in the backgroud for a bible study video in ohio.... everyone starts somewhere...


Q:

Hello, Josh! As an aspiring filmmaker, I know how tedious making any sort of film can be. What gets you motivated to create? Also, what’s your favorite snack? Cause, duh, snacks are some of the best motivators.

A:

Honestly I think i get inspired when i see a dope movie... like when i saw moonlight i just wanted to go out and create something personal and important.

Also sitting in a restaurant looking around and making up stories about the people...

Snack..... kale. Fuk off kale!! frosted flakes


Q:

What kind of movies would you like to direct in the future?

A:

I like stuff that bends reality and questions the human condition... bending the rules. I love films like being john malkovich and eternal sunshine of a spotless mind


Q:

Hey Josh! Congrats on your director debut of "Ape." Were there things you did differently as an actor because you were also the director? How did it change your perspective?

A:

it was hard... I liked it a lot but it was tough because i couldnt watch the monitors obviously so i had to make notes in my mind while acting in the scene... i realy liked this experience though and i have somehow even more respect for directors than before.


Q:

Are you looking forward to doing the full length APE?

A:

YES!!! The plan is to fastrack this into production after the short comes out. the feature is even deeper and darker... gonna be weird...


Q:

Do you miss working with the Hunger Games cast?

A:

yes... they were the best! family forever. i miss them all dearly... however we still hang now and then and keep in touch.


Q:

Hi! What's your favorite television show to watch?

A:

the Bob Ross painting show... i can benge for hours


Q:

Was this role challenging for you to play and how do you think you did?

A:

It definitely was challenging... its a deep and dark place to go to and I like tapping into that side of myself... I think I did alright... Im my hardest critic


Q:

what is the number one thing on your bucket list?

A:

go to patagonia...


Q:

Do you want to repeat the experience as a director??

A:

No doubt. I loved it. its extremely addictive and Im feining fo some mo.


Q:

Hi Josh (my brothers name too) What is the most Hollywood thing you have done/seen so far?

A:

dont ever come to hollywood for a vacation... its tacky and nothing like they make it seem. hah.


Q:

Do you have any directorial advice?

A:

prepare!! Its so important to know what you want to make so when youre there on set you have it all set up.

The script is the absolute base for everything. understad it inside and out.


Q:

Because Im sure you get the same questions over and over - what's your favorite day of the week, and why?

A:

Thursday... not becuase im here... but because i like how the word looks. and wednesday is finally over.


Q:

Hey Josh! What's your all time favorite movie or a movie you think everyone needs to see?

A:

Two for the Road. 60's film that was way ahead of its time and has inspried so many modern love stories. its great!


Q:

JOSH is there anything you couldn't live without?

A:

my freedom of speech and gluten


Q:

JOSH. Huge fan, you're awesome, yadda yadda ;)

You're such a strong ally to the LGBT community. How did you get involved with your organization, Straight But Not Narrow? What is your advice to the community in the wake of certain political events?

A:

We started SBNN becuase it felt like there was a lack of outreach to bridge communities together... especially in schools where bullying is brutal. I think now more than ever showing your support to your neighbors is paramount in surviving whats going on.

We are all here and human


Q:

Do you believe in a real life happy ending? If yes, what would you tell someone who kind of lost hope?

I love you, you're amazing! & congrats on your directing ❤

Love, Dana

A:

I think a happy ending is possible. I really believe its all about perception. If you can learn to manage that then you can find ways to be happy all the time


Q:

Yooo RV was a dumpster fire of a movie...that being said, how awesome was it to work with Robin Williams??

A:

hahahahah! Robin is a saint... biggest heart in the world and never a dull moment. he was the best.


Q:

Hi,

What is your dream role, if you could have any in the world, and what is your dream directorial role (genre, plot, cast to direct)? If you had to pick one of these, dream role or dream directing opportunity, which would you prefer to do?

Now this is the obligatory thank-you part that I could not pass up the opportunity to post, considering how much your LGBT+ work has meant to me:

I figured this would be a good opportunity to send some well-deserved thanks your way and hope you see it…! This idea of wanting to thank you started in a letter I started writing a good few years ago now… which I still happen to have in my bedside table, because it never got sent. (I don’t think I ever figured out where to send fan-mail to you, which didn’t help my cause.)

I don’t remember, when I was younger, knowing of any out actors. I’m 20 now, but up until my mid-teens, there was a big blank space around the ideas of ‘LGBT+’ and ‘the world’ being connected for me. I’ve known I was gay since I was 11, but the experience was very isolating, not knowing any gay people in real life. I had no foundation to go on, no experience in this, and obviously felt as though I couldn’t talk with anyone about it, even though I remember very few support-type services.

I remember seeing you in Zathura (my Dad loves Jumanji, so it was bound to happen) and ever since then, I think I’ve just sort of stuck with you. I must have seen that movie when I was about 12/13, and I think that’s when I started to hear what it was you were saying, because I noticed it was relevant to me. I followed what you were saying, and as I got older and more aware of myself and the world, it really started to have an impact on me. I felt as though that was my connection, as though that was my way of learning partly about who I was.

Even though you weren’t gay, the fact that you were only a few years older than me and were into the things and the field I also enjoyed really helped me relate to you. Because I related to you and because you actually meant something to me, the message you seemed so passionate about really resonated with me and it gave me a sort of courage and hope I don’t think someone older (or just generally someone whom I didn’t look up to) would have been able to instil. For the first time, someone I liked and someone I respected was talking about this thing I wasn’t able to share with anyone else. And they were a proper force in the ‘wider world.’

I never really struggle with ‘being gay,’ but I struggled with what other people might have thought, and again your dialogue helped with that. It was just so amazing to see someone whom I respected acting in a way that showed me he would treat me and people like me just as he would any other person. Even though it wasn’t a two way conversation between us, I felt that because you were a person with such a big stature who was brave enough to say this in public, that surely you knew people like me were out there and you were at least partially talking to us.

In the big scheme of things, I didn’t have it as hard as some others do, and I never want to take that for granted. My parents are relatively liberal and Australia is an OK climate to LGBT+ in. But I still found that it was hard to relate who I was with something bigger, and it was scary thinking about whether I would have to start a journey of discovery (not just self-discovery, but a discovery of ‘everything LGBT+’ I suppose you could say) on my own. Simply said, you helped me bridge the gap that I think sometimes people forget exists, even for young LGBT+ people in “supportive” environments. Just because they’re supportive doesn’t mean they’re informative or comfortable.

Nowadays, I’m so happy when I see younger celebrities come out, because I know how much that visibility and that platform means to young LGBT+ kids who simply want to see someone like them on television or in the media. Ellen Page, Charlie Carver, Tom Daley, Troye Sivan, Gus Kenworthy, etc, are all fantastic people that I just know will help make all the difference in someone’s life, as you did in mine.

So, all in all, I just wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for me and everyone else like me! I think it’s fair to say you’re not just an ally, but a friend too. I hope one day I get to shake your hand and thank you in-person for what you’ve done.

(...well this is the most personal thing I've ever written on this website.)

A:

Of course! I think its beyond important to give people their voice and fair shot at what they want from life. GET OUT OF THE WAY HATERS!

Only light can drive out dark.


Q:

HEY JOSH! I'm so glad you have finally done an AMA!

What advice would you give you're teenage self when entering the theatre/acting community?

A:

thick skin. actors are the most insecure and insane types of people... with that you need to have thick skin to deflect the dissapointment and let downs and judgements.


Q:

What's your idea of a successful person. What would make someone successful in your eyes?

A:

A person who is comfortable in their skin... I'm defintely not. I have gotten better as time goes on but someone who is and who is genuine is successful for me.


Q:

How would you beat up Donald trump?

A:

With knowledge.... it seems to be his biggest weakness...


Q:

Is it harder to be an actor or a director?
Have you thought about being in another large franchise such as the hunger games?

A:

Hmmm. I would say that directing definitely requires a shit ton more focus and work!!! Id say thats more challenging for sure