Amazing Panda Bears!
Who Doesn't Love Pandas!
Pandas are fascinating animals which are only found in remote, mountinous areas of China. They are known for their distinctive black and white coats, and recently were seen as the mascot to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Pandas were prized during the Han dynasty (206 BC to 24 AD) and the emperors would have them roaming around their gardens. They came to the attention of the Western world in 1869 when French missionare Pere Armand David first described them.
Pandas are mammals and are a part of the bear family. Their scientific classification is A. melanoleuca. Their Binomial name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca.
Read on to learn more fun facts about pandas.
What do Pandas Eat?
The diet of the giant panda mainly consists of the native bamboo found where they live. A panda can eat twenty to thirty pounds of bamboo every day. A bamboo diet is low on nutrients, causing pandas to have a low metabolism and a sedentary lifestyle. However, pandas are carniverous and will eat meat, eggs, and fish whenever available.
How Big is a Panda?
While stuffed panda toys look cute and cuddly, in reality they are fairly large animals. The average length of a panda is four to six feet long while the average height is two to three feet measured at the shoulder. Male pandas can weigh up to 350 pounds. Females are a little smaller, but can weigh as much as 250 pounds.
A female panda can begin having cubs anywhere from fours years to eight years old. They ovulate in the spring for only two or three days. One or two cubs are born 95 to 160 days after mating, but usually only one cub will survive. The cub can stay with its mother for up to three years before it goes out on its own.
At birth, the panda cub is approximately 1/900th the size of the mother panda. It only weighs three to five ounces and is about the size of a stick of butter! The babys eyes are closed and won't open until the cub is six to eight weeks old. The mother panda will nurse her cub for eight to nine months.
Where do Pandas Live?
Panda bears make their home in the mountains of China. They are mainly found in the Sichuan province, but some can be found in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. It is estimated that there are 1500 - 3000 pandas left in the wild and they are considered endangered due to deforestation, farming, and other development by man.
More Panda Facts
- Pandas do not hibernate as their low nutrient diet does not allow them to store much fat.
- They spend about twelve hours a day eating!
- Pandas have a bone in their wrist which acts as a "pseudo" thumb. This allows them to grasp the bamboo shutes they eat.
- Pandas are very shy and avoid people. This has been a contributing factor in their becoming engangered as they won't migrate to new food sources if it means going through populated areas.
- There are a little over 120 pandas living in zoos all around the world. Pandas can be seen in zoos in China, Mexico, the United States, North Korea, Japan, and Germany.
- The Chinese name for panda is daxiongmao. This means "bear-cat."
- Pandas eat in a sitting position.
- Pandas are both good at climbing trees and good swimmers. This helps them to escape predators.
- Pandas can make up to eleven sounds. These sounds can indicate when they're defending themselves or when they are guarding against predators.
- In captivity, a panda can live to be thirty years old. However, in the wild, they only live to be 14 to 20 years old.
- Natural predators of pandas include leopards, jackals, and the yellow-throated marten (which eats panda cubs).
Do you think panda bears should be preserved?
Pandas have become endangered though the actions of humans. These actions include illegal poaching, farming, and deforestation.
Many people and organizations are actively working to help save these endangered animals. Panda populations in the wild are increasing due to preserves being established as well as green corridors which the pandas use to migrate through. Community programs are also being established to enable people to coexist with pandas.
Learn More About Panda Preservation
- WWF - Panda conservation success
Panda conservation success