If you’re someone who goes to a lot of basketball games—professional or college—there’s a good chance you’ve seen Red Panda. Rong Niu, a native of China’s Shanxi province who performs as Red Panda, has an amazing act: She rides a seven-foot tall unicycle while balancing bowls on her head. She also kicks bowls from her foot to her head while on the unicycle.
It’s a great act when she nails it. But if she messes up? Well, then fans get to see some bowls break on the floor. Either way, it’s worthwhile entertainment. Red Panda is by far one of the best basketball halftime acts.
But there’s some bad news to share. According to a report on Oakland’s KTVU-TV, someone has stolen Red Panda’s 7-foot unicycle.
“She’s heartbroken,” her agent, Pat Figley of San Francisco-based Farallon Entertainment, told KTVU on Wednesday. ”It’s like her baby was kidnapped. She’s had that unicycle for 30 years.”
As Figley tells the story, Niu had landed at SFO from Denver [on January 24th] and was waiting for her bag – filled with her 7-foot unicycle – to come off the conveyor belt. She saw it from a distance. But as she was about 10 to 15 feet away, someone “must have grabbed it,” Figley said. He said it’s possible someone even took it by mistake, and if so, he’s hoping they return it, no questions asked.
Niu has already had to cancel at least one appearance, at UCLA, due to the loss of her unicycle. It’s a big deal. She told Complex last year that sometimes the unicycle doesn’t make it through airport security, and added: “It’s almost impossible [to find a backup unicycle].”
Oddly enough, a theft of an electric unicycle was reported in San Francisco that same day. Are both the work of serial unicycle thieves? Did someone just grab the wrong bag and has still not noticed despite the fact it contained a giant unicycle? Will Niu have to use a GoFundMe to get the funds for a new unicycle, or will an NBA team step in and give her a new one? There must be at least one NBA team owner with a heart.
Then again, perhaps her unicycle will be recovered. Figley, Red Panda’s agent, is offering a $2,000 reward for the return of the unicycle.