- Giant pandas (often referred to as simply “pandas”) are black and white bears. In the wild, they are found in thick bamboo forests, high up in the mountains of central China – you can check out our cool facts about China, here!
- These magnificent mammals are omnivores. But whilst pandas will occasionally eat small animals and fish, bamboo counts for 99 percent of their diet.
- Pandas are BIG eaters – every day they fill their tummies for up to 12 hours, shifting up to 12 kilograms of bamboo!
- The giant panda’s scientific name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, which means “black and white cat-foot”.
Giant Panda The giant panda has an insatiable appetite for bamboo. A typical animal eats half the day—a full 12 out of every 24 hours—and relieves itself dozens of times a day.
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Giant panda, bearlike mammal inhabiting bamboo forests in the mountains of central China. Its striking coat of black and white, combined with a bulky body and round face, gives it a captivating appearance that has endeared it to people worldwide.
- Panda Facts Infographics.
- You can track pandas in the wild through their poop. There’s a saying that goes, “What goes in, must come out.” Since pandas have to eat about 38 kg of bamboo per day, they excrete around 28 kg of poop daily.
- Newly-born pandas are only as big as a stick of butter. As adults, pandas grow big enough to prove their namesake of giant pandas. However, newborns are the complete opposite.
- Pandas have the digestive system of a carnivore. Normally, the panda diet consists of 99% bamboo. Although they already eat large amounts to compensate for bamboo’s poor nutritional value, their bodies are further specialized to sustain their needs.
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An example is the panda reserve system which was established as part The National Conservation Project for the Giant Panda and its Habitat of 1992. Today there are around 67 reserves. Human interaction within reserves is minimised, and infrastructure is limited as is removal of trees and thus giant panda habitat.
Pandas have been kept in zoos as early as the Western Han Dynasty in China, where the writer Sima Xiangru noted that the panda was the most treasured animal in the emperor's garden of exotic animals in the capital Chang'an (present Xi'an). Not until the 1950s were pandas again recorded to have been exhibited in China's zoos.
- Physical characteristics
Native to the mountain forests of southwest China, the giant panda is one of the most beloved animals in the world.
Giant pandas are identified by their distinctive black and white coloring. Their ears, muzzle, eyes, shoulders and legs are black while the rest of their body is white. Their thick hair keeps them warm in the cool, wet mountain zones. When on all fours, giant pandas average between 60-100 cm (2-3 ft.) tall at the shoulder and between 1-2 m (4-6 ft.) long. They can weigh between 100-115 kg (220-250 lb.), with males being larger than females.
One of the interesting evolutionary traits of the panda is their protruding wrist bone that acts like a thumb. This helps the pandas hold bamboo while they munch on it with their strong molar teeth. Bamboo makes up nearly the entire diet of the panda. Due to the low nutritional value of bamboo, pandas need to eat 10-20 kg (20-40 lb.) a day. Occasionally pandas will eat other available food, including small rodents, eggs, fish and other flora. Bamboo provides a good amount of water, but pandas need to supplement this with fresh water daily.
When pandas are between 4-8 years of age, they reach maturity and can reproduce. However, female pandas are only able to become pregnant for 2-3 days each spring! In this small window of time, male and female pandas find each other through scents and calls similar to that of goats or sheep. They do not roar like other bears. Between 95 and 160 days of becoming pregnant, the female panda will give birth. The newborn cub is blind, hairless, and tiny, weighing only 85-140 g (3-5 oz.). Completely helpless, the cub cannot move much on its own for nearly 3 months. In turn, the mother is very protective and careful in tending to her cub during this time.
With only around 2060 pandas living in the wild, the giant panda is considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN. Due to the fact that pandas reproduce so infrequently, it is very difficult for their population to recover from such a low point. One the main reasons that panda populations have declined is habitat destruction. As the human population in China continues to grow, pandas habitat gets taken over by development, pushing them into smaller and less livable areas. Habitat destruction also leads to food shortages. Pandas feed on several varieties of bamboo that bloom at different times of the year. If one type of bamboo is destroyed by development, it can leave the pandas with nothing to eat during the time it normally blooms, increasing the risk of starvation. To combat this issue, the Chinese government has actively worked to restore and protect bamboo habitat, and these measures have shown positive results. State Forestry Administration surveys have concluded that the panda population has increased since the Chinese governments actions, and in 2016, the IUCN upgraded the giant pandas status from Endangered to Vulnerable. While an increasing panda population is good news for now, it is predicted that climate change will eliminate over 35% of the pandas bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. Wildlife reserves have been set up in parts of China to make sure the pandas have a home, and care is taken to make sure they survive in the wild. Researchers continue to study how pandas breed in an effort to increase the population. You can help by donating or adopting a panda through the World Wildlife Fund.
High in dense bamboo forests in the misty, rainy mountains of southwestern China lives one of the world's rarest mammals: the giant panda, also called the panda. Only about 1,500 of these black-and-white relatives of bears survive in the wild.
Interesting Facts About the Panda Bear. These bears are possibly the most famous icons for endangered species. Despite this, most people have very limited basic information of pandas past “eats bamboo.” Six Toes – Panda bear paws have five fingers, plus a “thumb.” However, this thumb is actually not a digit at all, but a modified bone.