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Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Panda Bear Description
Many agree that the Panda Bear is the most beautiful of all bears due to the black and white coloring. It also has shorter fur so it doesn’t look as mangled as the coat of other bears. Panda Bears definitely have a different look to them. They have very large round heads that are white in color. The ears and the area around the eyes are black. They also have black limbs.
These are among the smallest of all bears in the world. The largest males are about 200 pounds. They average from 5 to 6 feet in height. The females are close in size but often slightly smaller. When you see a pair side by side you can often tell the difference, but if you are only looking at one of them it can prove to be difficult to tell them apart.
Facts about Bears
Panda Bear Anatomy
While it isn’t surprising that this bear, just like all others, has a large head, the shape of it is what is so interesting. It looks very round like it has air in it or something. The older a Panda Bear is the larger their head is going to appear. Even as the rest of the body stops changing this part will continue.
This is due to the powerful jaws. Pandas spend hours and hours a day eating bamboo shoots. This makes those muscles very powerful and the more they eat the stronger they become. You will find they also have molars which are flat due to the fact that they need to be able to grind up the foods they consume.
Many people find the coat of these bears to look very well groomed. They have shorter hairs than other bears so they don’t get matted and tangled. They also have a thicker coat because they don’t get very much movement into their days. The warmth for their bodies comes from this coat. Take a look at their wrists and opposable thumbs too, they help with climbing and with opening up the bamboo. They have sharp claws that are mainly used for climbing.
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Panda Bear Evolution
Early thoughts about these animals is that they were related to raccoons instead of bears. We now know that isn’t true. The oldest fossils found are about 8 million years old. They show these bears used to be quite a bit larger than they are today. It is believed they used to thrive on a diet of meat as well.
The most common theory is that they have to learn to live on plant life in order to survive. Their body structure is one that makes them slower than other bears. Therefore it would have been hard for them to capture prey, must like it is today. Their smaller size also put them at risk of being eaten. For their own defenses and to survive they took to the trees.
It may have been that bamboo was about the only food they could find at one point in time. There are very few animals in the world that can eat it. This is due to the bamboo having a splinter like break down in the throat and esophagus as it goes down. This is painful for the animal. Yet the esophagus of the Panda Bear is much thicker so it doesn’t bother them.
Panda Bear Behavior
Most people don’t have any fears of the Panda Bear like they do of larger sized bears. Yet that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave these ones alone too. People have been attacked by them from time to time due to their actions being a threat to the bears. They like to live alone in the wild. However, due to the areas where they feed it is common for them to be in close proximity of each other. Almost all of their time is spent between eating and resting.
Panda Bear Videos
Panda Bear Habitat/Distribution
All Panda Bears that remain in the wild are found in China. They can be found at different times in different elevations. They will move naturally to be able to benefit from the bamboo that is offered. Sometimes it is at lower elevations of about 4,000 feet. They can also climb up to 11,000 feet in order to find it. There are now six distinct areas of the wet China forests where these bears remain.
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Panda Bear Diet/Feeding Habits
It may seem that the entire diet for the Panda Bear consists of the bamboo. Almost all of it does. The problem is that this type of nutrition isn’t very filling so they are constantly hungry. They need to consume from 25 to 35 pounds of it every single day in order to survive. Since they eat it slowly this takes many hours of the day to complete. They may stop for a while to rest, then wake up to feed more.
Panda Bears also eat stems and leaves from the trees. They will move from a tree before they have consumed all of the bamboo on it. They do this in order to allow the vegetation to grow there again. They have been observed moving in patterns year after year so that they always have plenty to eat.
Some Panda Bears will go to the ground in search of food as well. They may eat grass or hunt for small animals. Hunting is very difficult for them though due to the small size and their slow movements. They are also very vulnerable on the ground compared to when they are in the trees.
Panda Bear Reproduction
There are now only about 700 Panda left in the wild. Even though they are protected in China, it is hard to get their numbers back up. They don’t seem to have the same drive for mating as other bears. They tend to be much older than necessary before they take part in it. The males seem to be more interested in mating than the females. The fact that they can be far from each other means it is hard to get to the other one for mating to occur. It takes too long as they have to stop for continuous eating throughout the journey.
Even in captivity these bears don’t seem to mate at a fast enough rate. The help from scientists and experts have helped though. They have offered medical procedures to help fertilize the females. They also closely monitor her during the pregnancy. Through observation it has also been learned that Panda Bears aren’t the most nurturing. Many of the mothers simply don’t understand how to care for the needs of the young. Intervention here can also help to save the lives of the offspring.
Panda Bear Videos
Panda Bear Predators
Panda Bears can become an easily meal for larger bears or other animals when they are on the ground. Since they do spend most of their time in the trees though it isn’t as serious of a problem as it could be.
Problems with humans though continues to put them at risk. You may not realize how desperate their future is. They are the top ranked animal in the world when it comes to the possibility of being extinct. Yet their limited numbers make some hunters feel they need to go kill one now or they may never have the chance.