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Interesting Facts About The Giant Panda
The Panda Bear which is also known as "Giant Panda" or "daxiongmao" meaning "large bear-cat" in Chinese, is native to China and there are only about 1000-2000 alive in the misty, rainy mountains to the southwest. In 2007 there were 239 pandas alive in captivity. This makes them one of the world's rarest mammals and puts them on the endangered species list.
Giant Pandas weigh anywhere from 165 to 300 pounds, however, as newborn cubs they weigh only 3-4 ounces. An adult measures 4-6 feet long including their tail which is 4-6 inches long in itself. They are primarily white and have black fur on its muzzle, legs, shoulders and arms. They also have unique patches of black around their eyes which resembles a mask. It is thought that the reason they are so uniquely colored is because it provides them with camouflage in their habitat which is shady snowy and rocky.
If you could look into their mouth you would find very broad, flat molars. This enables them to crush bamboo shoots to eat. If you watch them eat you will notice that they hold the bamboo with their front paws using their four fingers and an enlarged wrist bones as thumbs to grip it. This also enables them to be great climbers so that they can reach higher up in the bamboo trees they love to eat.
These giant animals eat for approximately 12 hours a day and they need at least two different types of bamboo species where they live if they want to survive. This is due to the fact that they can only digest about 1/5 of the food they eat. They eat vegetation, fish or small animals if they need to but bamboo is their primary source of nutrition and it is not very nutritious. In order for them to stay healthy they must eat about 15 percent of their body weight every day.
Typically the Panda is very shy and they do not travel into areas where people are nearby; though there have been some reports about the panda attacking humans. They do not attack out of aggression but merely irritation because they are restricted to very limited areas due to farmland and logging, and their habitat continues to shrink. This also means that if the bamboo dies off in their area the panda will starve because it is unable to move to find more food.
They are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. A female does not want another female in her area and they mark their territory using vocalization and scent markings. They will claw trees or spray urine.
They do not have a den as other bears do therefore they do not hibernate. Instead they move toward warmer elevations and temperatures during the cold winter months. The Giant Panda may live up to 30 years in captivity and about 20 years in the wild.
Because they are solitary animals females and males come together only briefly in order to mate and then they separate. Pandas are old enough to breed when they reach four to six years old and they can often breed successfully until they are twenty years old. They have one or two cubs every two years. The cub will nurse until it is about four months old when it begins to nibble on bamboo and it is completely weaned by the age of six months. By the age of 18 months the cub will leave its mother to begin its solitary life.
At first, Pandas seemed uninterested in breeding while in captivity and they were artificially incriminated to increase their population. However, now researchers have finally figured out how to encourage natural breeding while in captivity.
Protection Efforts in Effect for Them
These beautiful bears were at one time the target of poachers who wanted their fur however thanks to various laws and conservation efforts they are no longer hunted. Their primary threat is habitat loss and low birthrates both in the wild and in captivity.
To try and help the shrinking population of wild Pandas there are various Conservation organizations, scientists and Chinese Government officials who try to figure out ways to resolve the pandas' isolation issues. They are trying to make it so that strips of land remain untouched so that the panda can travel from mountain to mountain comfortably.