The Little Panda Li

The Little Panda Li

The story of Panda Li consists of three parts: Part 1 (this page)| Part 2 | Part 3

The little panda Li was the youngest in his family. He had two older brothers Tian and Han. The two of them thought they were strong and beautiful and couldn’t relate much to their little brother. They romped around with each other and measured their strength in games. Rarely was the little brother, Li, allowed to join in.

Li looked a little different from his siblings. He had a longer ear on the right side, which often fell into his face when he was running and thus took away his vision in his right eye. Panda ears are usually small and stand upright on their heads. Because of this, the other panda bears often made fun of Li. They called him “floppy ear” or “one eye.”

Li was often sad about this, but his parents always comforted him, saying, “Don’t be sad. You are special. We love you just as much as your brothers!” However, this did not comfort Li for long. Somehow, he always felt that all the other panda bears were watching him.

“Something is wrong with me,” the little panda thought to himself in those moments. He didn’t want to be different from the other panda bears, and he withdrew. There was a special place nearby where Li liked to be alone. This was the case on this morning. Li walked to the beach. There was an old wooden boat there that had not been used for a long time. In this boat, he could forget all his worries and let his fantasies run free.

In the days before, Li had already brought some things to the boat: an old blanket and a big bamboo pole, with which he did his exercises. The little panda was already looking forward to the delicious bamboo shoots he had taken along for a picnic. After playing and practicing wildly, he crawled into the boat and ate the goodies he brought with him. He was so exhausted and full that he fell asleep on the spot. This had never happened before.

Suddenly, a huge whirlwind began brewing outside. The little panda bear didn’t notice anything, because he was fast asleep. The huge waves caused the boat to break away from the beach and drift with Li into the open sea. The sea hissed and bubbled, and the old wooden boat floated within it like a tiny walnut shell.

Li woke up the next morning, drenched. In order to see properly, he threw his head back, keeping his long ear from blocking his view. Around him on a beach lay the bamboo pole and a few broken boards left over from the wooden boat. Everything looked so strange.

Li shook himself vigorously to check whether he was really awake or just dreaming. At the same time, he shook out his wet fur, snorting loudly. There was no doubt about it: Li was awake. “Oh dear!” he cried in despair. “How did I end up here?” No one could give him an answer to this question, as he stood alone on the sandy shore of an island.

It was still raining heavily, so Li sought shelter under a tree. After a short time, he realized that he was extremely hungry. At home, there would always be a delicious breakfast waiting for him right about now. But he couldn’t even think about that. He had to go in search of something edible. Li got a queasy feeling from this strange environment. Suddenly something rustled in the bushes.

Out of the bushes emerged very slowly a long, wizened neck with a small head on it. “Is that a snake?” Li asked, startled. He remembered his parents’ admonitions, “You have to be careful of snakes. Some of them could be poisonous.”

But no, this had to be something else, because after the long neck followed a large carapace that moved rather slowly on small feet. Fortunately, the creature did not look dangerous, and the little panda gathered all his courage.

“Who are you?” he asked. “My name is Patricia, and I am the oldest turtle on this island. And who are you and where are you from? I haven’t met anyone like you before,” said the turtle. 

Li told Patricia his whole story. He told her about his home and his family and that sometimes he felt sad because he looked a little different from the other panda bears. Li told her that he had accidentally fallen asleep in the boat, so he didn’t notice the bad storm that had left him stranded on this island. “How am I going to find my way back? I miss my family already,” Li sobbed in despair. 

The old turtle listened to Li very carefully, then said, “I wouldn’t have even noticed that you have a longer ear if you hadn’t told me. I also have a very different pattern on my shell than my fellow turtles. That is what makes us all unique! Together, we’ll figure out a way for you to find your way back home.”

Li calmed down a bit and nodded eagerly. But suddenly there was a lot of noise, because a family of monkeys had surrounded the newcomer. They hopped and jumped from one tree to another, screeching wildly and asking questions. The little panda bear didn’t know which of their questions he should answer first. Because it was so loud, more and more animals came to Li, and everyone wanted to meet the new visitor.

Out of the island forest came a striped tiger, two mighty elephants, a fox, a kangaroo, and a parrot with beautiful colorful plumage. Even the furry capybaras looked curiously out of the sea. However, because of the hustle and bustle, they soon dived down again and promised to come back later. All the animals had lived on the island for a very long time and were now curious about Li.

For the little panda bear, it had all become too much. He was so exhausted from the exciting journey and all the new impressions that his eyes closed, and he simply fell over. When he opened his eyes again, he was lying in a softly padded nest of very soft grass. In front of him were ripe bananas, fresh leafy branches, berries, and all kinds of delicious things.

He was so hungry that he tasted a little of everything. “Everyone is so kind to me,” he thought. “You can really feel at home here.” Unfortunately, feeling good didn’t last long. Li got quite a stomach ache from all the treats. All the animals had been very sweet, but they didn’t know what foods panda bears tolerated best.

When Li told them that bamboo was the panda’s main food, Patricia heaved a deep sigh. She said, “Unfortunately, there is no bamboo grass growing on this island. I know that for sure. But I will bring you some herbs that will do you good. This will also make your stomach ache go away.” The parrot flew all over the island, but he too had to agree with the turtle. “No bamboo in sight!” he confirmed.

Patricia was an old, wise turtle. She knew that one could not stay long on the island without their necessary main food. So, she went to the elephants and asked them to get some logs from the forest. A raft had to be built, so that Li could be brought back home. The other animals were given instructions on how to help build it. The capybaras, with their sharp and strong teeth, proved to be masters at working the logs.

The monkeys thought it was great that there was finally something happening on the island. Instead of constantly bickering and eavesdropping amongst each other, they could now observe the exciting goings-on. Now, everyone was busy assembling the raft as quickly as possible. Even the flamingo helped diligently, although he otherwise did not like to get his feathers dirty.

All the animals helped, and the raft was finished by the evening. The tiger checked the joint work, stood on the raft for a test run, and said proudly, “You could go around the whole world with this. Well done, friends!” Everyone cheered! Then Patricia, the old turtle, came and made a very serious face. “That’s right,” she said, “You’ve really done a great job. But the most difficult task is still ahead of us. We now have to find out where Li’s home is, and then we’ll need helpers who can swim very well and push the raft in the right direction.”

A silence spread. Everyone was thinking hard. “I have an idea,” the parrot spoke up. “When I circle the island every day, I always meet a dolphin. Why don’t we ask him if he can help us?”

“Why didn’t I think of that idea myself?” asked the old turtle. “Well, I’m probably just getting old,” she muttered to herself. “The dolphin is an old friend of mine, and we’ve known each other for a long, long time. I’m sure he’ll be happy to help us.”

So, the parrot flew off to track down the friendly helper. After a short time, he returned to the shore with the dolphin, and Patricia told him Li’s story. “Of course I’ll help you. One of you just has to show me the way,” he said.

To be continued…

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