Tian Tian, the female panda bear also called Sweetie, looks out from her enclosure Dec. 16 as members of the public view her for the first time at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. The panda was named Wednesday as one of the 12 female faces of the year by the BBC.
The BBC's web page Wednesday showing the 2011 women's faces of the year.
The BBC's inclusion of a panda as one of the 12 "Faces of the year 2011 - the women" has caused an outrage.
The list published Wednesday included Tian Tian, also known as Sweetie, one of two giant pandas on loan from China to the Edinburgh zoo, for December. The women representing each of the other 11 months of the year are people, as are all the 12 men on the BBC's male faces list published Monday.
Freelance journalist Bob Chaundy, whose name appears at the bottom of the BBC's webpage, told the Guardian newspaper of London that he agreed the panda was an odd choice but that the selection was put together by BBC editors. He only wrote up their choices, he said.
The issue was playing out on Twitter with thousands of posts under the hashtag #pandagate.
"Here's why #pandagate matters: 3 out of 4 people in the news are men. Don't give the 1 female slot to a panda," posted Catherine Mayer.
Several Tweeters pointed out the BBC's choice was a female face "with 2 black eyes." Chaundy tweeted that's what he got from his wife over the 'pandamonium.'
The BBC's men's faces of 2011.
The BBC press office tweeted in response to the social media outrage: "Sweetie isn't the first non-human on Faces of the year list, Peppa Pig last year and Benson the carp on the 2009 male list."
The uproar was covered by news media on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Labor member of Parliament Stella Creasy told the Guardian that the broadcaster had a long way to go when it comes to representing women. "Whilst we all love a good panda story, in a year when Christine Lagarde became head of the IMF, or Helle Thorning-Schmidt became prime minister of Denmark or even the sad death of Amy Winehouse, it's frustrating the BBC couldn't think of 12 human female faces who have made the news this year."
MSNBC's The Maddow Blog challenged readers to pick a human to replace the panda.
Panda-gate appears to be just the icing on the cake frosting BBC watchers already upset that the network did not include any women on its shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year.
Members of Parliament have accused the broadcaster of "ignoring women's achievements" in sports.