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True story about the first American Panda and the Woman who made it happen

Welcome to the one and only place in the world where you can get the Panda Wishes Book, with Teen Becksted's photos, and historical information about the Great American Adventure. Look at the newly restored negatives of Su Lin and Ruth Harkness and Mei Mei.


This is why we all love this story, and how it has endured through the years. I can just imagine this moment, and know that Grandpa Teen was one of those invited to her aprtment to consol Ruth during this time of wonder and awe. We all get discouraged, and yet we know we must do what is right in the spite of what we want. That is what this story gives us, a gift of love that inspires  great changes.


For the record and quoted from “The Lady and the Panda” by Ruth Harkness 1938 Nicholson and Watson

Page 230:

Ruth is trying her best to take care of Su Lin, but the health and diet of an unknown panda was weighing heavy on her mind;

The whole business looked as though it were going to end in utter failure; I’d never be able to go back to my beautiful lost world of tumbled mountain. Was I a little insane, or had I just imagined that brining a live Panda to America was worth anything to this rich country of ours?

Well I had sunk into the lowest point of discouragement, the only thing I could think of that I wanted to do was pack everything up , take Su Lin and go back to the border of Tibet. And perhaps if I’d had sufficient money, I would have done just that. Turn a little wild animal, that known and trusted people, loose in the jungles to meet a perhaps tragic fate? That of course, wasn’t what my thought had been; it was all rather rebellious, but the idea of a Jungle Book sort of existence with Su Lin in the mountains certainly seemed heavenly in comparison to the chaos that New York was making of our lives.

Friends even strangers, who anything about it all tried to help, but January dragged on in endless confusion. One day Colonel Roosevelt came with his brother Kermit and his young son Quentin* to see Su Lin. Like so many other people even they, who had shot a panda, weren’t quite prepared for the fuzzy little ball of black and white fur that weighed ten or eleven pounds, and was trying so hard to walk. Mr. Herbert Bradley of the Chicago Zoological Society arrived in time to see the Colonel sitting on the floor, Su Lin cradled in his arms. “We really ought to have Su Lin in Chicago, Colonel,” remarked Mr. Bradley, “for if she should die, she’d be mounted in your group in the Field Museum.” The Colonel glanced up at Quentin , who was busily snapping pictures, of his father and Su Lin. “ I’d a soon think of mounting my own son as I would this baby,” he retorted.

* In the Book “ On the Trail of the Giant Panda” By Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt the Colonel gives a detailed diary of his adventure in China, even meeting the famous “TAO”. Reading his book was another permanent record for the information I used in my book Panda Wishes, it is very important to me that the history shows as it was, then. I still struggle with the fact that Ruth’s guide was Quentin Young, the Brother of Jack young. Trained and sent by him, and known for his guiding the Colonel in the adventure in his book, but Ruth’s efforts were not as well known as that, of the one that would be more tragic than hers. Colonel Roosevelt knew this little life was precious, and he compared it to his own child, think how close Ruth Must have felt to Su Lin.

~Love and Panda Wishes~






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