It could be postulated that Loch, Clayton State University’s mascot, is an endangered species. After all, he (she? it?) is almost never seen in Loch Ness, and is otherwise only seen in Morrow, Ga., primarily on the Clayton State campus, usually in The Loch Shop or at athletic events or hanging around the campus’ 12-acre Swan Lake.
If indeed that is the case, it can be assumed that Loch feels a kinship with another endangered species, the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). While no one knows for certain how many Lochs there are, it is thought that the Giant Panda population is limited to about 1600, most of them in the Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces of the People’s Republic of China.
To see his (her? its?) soulmates in their natural habitat, Loch (aka Venetusaurantiaco Stagnomonstrum) recently travelled to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (http://www.panda.org.cn/english/
) north of Chengdu, Sichuan, China, to commune with or otherwise relate to the Giant Pandas at the world’s foremost panda conservation facility. Even the topography made Loch feel right at home, since the main body of water at the panda base is also called Swan Lake.
Travelling with Clayton State sophomore Maggie Shiffert, Loch clearly hit it off right away with the pandas, who offered the blue and orange Laker a snack.
“They got along just fine. The pandas even shared their bamboo,” reports Shiffert, noting that bamboo makes up 99 percent of the standard panda diet. “Who knew Loch liked his leafy greens?”