‘Pandas Aren’t Real’ Conspiracy Theory Is Making The Internet Very Suspicious Of Bears

Are they lab experiments gone wrong?

Pandas aren't real, conspiracy theory Karel Cerny / Shutterstock

Lovable panda bears can be found anywhere from their native China to your local zoo and we've all, at the very least, seen a photo of them.

But what if we told you they're not real? Or at least that's what some internet users are saying as part of the latest viral theory.

TikTok is this theory's newest home but it didn't begin there.

The 'pandas aren't real' theory has been around for almost a decade.

Back in 2014, a Redditor posted in the subreddit r/funny with the caption "I'm fairly certain pandas are just an extremely elaborate hoax," showing two pandas sitting down similar to how a human child would.


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The post gained thousands of upvotes, with some believing they are just people in costumes due to their human-like movements. 

And since then, the 'pandas aren't real' theory has progressed.

The theory runs the gammit from suggesting that pandas are literally just humans in suits to believing that pandas are lab made.


Some key questions include why do pandas eat bamboo when they are carnivorous animals and why are they so bad at mating?

Pandas notoriously have a low libido and limited mating seasons — hence why they're an endangered species. They also have a carnivores digestive system and struggling to digest bamboo, even though it is their main food source. 

Many ask too why pandas urinate doing a handstand, but it's now been confirmed that males do this to spread their scent further and increase their chances during mating season.



These things that make pandas bad at survival have caused some people to think that they are some kind of messed up lab experiment.


TikToker @fluentyforward notes that it wasn't until 1869 that pandas skin was discovered and it still took another century for there to be an actual panda sighting — unlike other animals who appear in ancient writing and hieroglphics much earlier. 

But this is inaccurate as they have been documented in ancient Chinese historical literature and a medical journal from the Qin dynasty recommended that their pelts be used as a menstrual treatment in the third century, according to naturalist George Schaller.

Instances of 'fake pandas' have added to the theory.

In 2014 a traveling circus near Milan was found to have fake pandas; the "pandas" were chow chow puppies dyed black and white to fool visitors going to the circus. 

Forestry officials got a tip-off and charged the owner with possessing false documents for the dogs, which were imported from Hungary with false passports.


A spokesperson for the circus denied fooling the public, saying, "it was obvious they were dogs. No animal was mistreated," he said.

That same year a real panda faked a pregnancy just for a little extra bamboo. So, people have become somewhat suspicious of the animal.

So, are pandas real?

Of course. And most of the people spreading the conspiracy theory are likely aware of this too.


In fact, the theory is becoming similar to the internet's "birds aren't real" conspiracy which is actually just a tongue-in-cheek joke that pokes fun at widespread misinformation campaigns.

So to be clear, pandas are indeed real but if you want to join in with this in-joke disguised as a conspiracy go ahead but don't fall too far down the rabbit hole!

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Kurtis Condra is a writer for YourTango, based in San Francisco, California. His expertise includes pop-culture deep dives, human interest stories, and news. When not writing for YourTango, he focuses on his poetry. You can follow his poetic journey on​​ Instagram.