I know, I know. FunJungle #3 (Big Game) isn’t even out yet (though it will be soon… October 13th!) and I’m already talking about FunJungle #4 (pub date: sometime in spring 2017). But there’s been some exciting news this week that’s relevant to the story.
This weekend, at the National Zoo in Washington DC, not one… but two giant panda cubs were born. Now, the birth of any giant panda is cause for celebration, seeing as there are less that 2,500 giant pandas remaining in the world today. (About 1,800-1,900 in the wild and 300 or so in zoos.) So twins is doubly exciting — although they can present problems for Mom.
Which leads me to the amazing reveal that… The animal at the center of the mystery in FunJungle #4 will be…
OK, it’s a giant panda.
Why a giant panda? Because everyone loves giant pandas. Even more than people love koalas. A while back, when I was doing research for Big Game at the San Diego Zoo, I happened to mention to some of the staff that a koala was at the center of poached because I was trying to choose an animal that people adored and they all looked at me like I was an idiot and asked, “Then why didn’t you choose a panda?”
I mean, look at them. They’re adorable, all right.
(Now, if you’re read Poached, you know that a panda couldn’t have been swiped the same way that a koala could have, so the mystery wouldn’t have worked out the same way. But still, they had a good point.)
I was already well down the road to writing Big Game, so I had to shelve the panda idea until book four.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking: You have more questions about book #4. What happens to the panda? Which characters are returning? What’s going on with Teddy and Summer?
Well, I’m not going to answer any of those questions right now. In fact, I’m not answering any questions about FJ4 for a long time. (Why? OK, I’ll answer that question… kind of. Just find my recent post about why I’m not answering any questions about Spy School 4.)
But in the meantime, to assuage your annoyance at me for dropping the panda bomb and then moving on, here’s another bit of bear news from the week: Folks in Alaska spotted a grizzly rolling down a hill, apparently just for fun. Click here to see it. It’s ridiculously cute.