The giant panda is an ancient and noble animal species that is native to mainland China and is regarded as a national treasure. The giant pandas are an endangered species with only about 1864 estimated to live in the wild and only 422 living in captivity. Giant pandas have a friendly and cuddly appearance that makes anyone who sees them fall in love with them, and explains why people from all over the world are fascinated by them. The ancestor of the giant panda, Ailuaractos Lufengensis, lived 6 million years ago (the Pleistocene Era). Since many animals from the same time have died out while giant pandas miraculously survive so far, they are called “living fossils”. The giant panda was believed to have magical powers that could ward off natural disasters and evil spirits.
Adult pandas have black eyes and black and white fur. Newborn pandas are pink, hairless, born blind, and are only 1/900th the size of their mother; which proportionally makes them the smallest baby of any placental mammal.
Adult pandas can weigh up to 300 lbs. or 136 kilograms and they are generally 4 to 5 ft. high or 1.2 to 1.5 meters high.
Adult pandas have black eyes, and newborns are all born blind. Adult giant pandas are high myopia that they only see things clearly within several meters. So the world in giant panda's eyes is forever blurry and mysterious.
Pandas actually have 5 fingers…and a thumb! They use the extra digit to help them grasp bamboo while they eat.
99% of a panda's diet consists of leaves, stems, and shoots of various bamboo species. Only about 1% of their diet consists of other plants and even meat. Through evolution, giant pandas changed from predators to herbivores which is part of the reason so many in the West doubted their existence. An herbivore bear? Ridiculous!
- Life Expectancy
Pandas in the wild are typically able to live for about 20 years. Those in captivity (due to fewer dangers and more plentiful food) are able to live 10 years longer and thus live over 30 years.
Adult female giant pandas only become go into heat and become fertile breeders once a year for just a couple of days between March and May. The female will give birth in August or September to one or two cubs. In the wild, a mother giant panda can only take care of one cub, which means if she gives birth to twins, only the stronger one will survive.
Few sights are more adorable than a sleeping panda. Why? Well, one of their favorite ways to sleep is by hanging themselves upside down from a tree or rolling themselves into a giant ball. Since giant pandas do not have a regular den, they will choose any hollow tree or cave that meets their needs.
Pandas in captivity spend upwards of 12 hours a day eating, and if they are wild pandas they spend 16 hours a day foraging for food. Since their digestive system can't absorb food easily, they need to eat 44 lbs. (20kg) to 88 lbs. (40kg) of food each day to get the necessary nutrition. That is why a common scene of giant pandas is either idly eating or drowsing.
- Physical activities
Giant pandas are both excellent climbers and swimmers. As mentioned earlier, they will climb a tree, hang upside down, and go to sleep!
Generally, giant pandas possess very docile temperaments. They seldom actively attack other animals or humans, but mother pandas will become sensitive and irritable after giving birth if anyone tries to harm their babies.
For centuries people outside of China believed that pandas were nothing but a myth, but in 1869 the French missionary Armand David was given proof of the existence of pandas. However, it wasn't until 1936 that a live panda was seen for the first time in the western world.
This species was once widespread throughout southern and eastern China. Threatened by human expansion and habitat loss, the giant panda's range has decreased dramatically to a meager 13,000 scattered in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo of six mountain chains in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Devoted to save the declining panda population, Chinese government has established 67 panda reserves in China according to a survey made in 2015.
As the homeland of the giant panda, Sichuan has the biggest giant panda base located in Chengdu, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which has the complete facilities necessary for visitors to get a close encounter with giant pandas.
Foping Nature Reserve is situated on the middle of Qinling Mountains and contains the highest panda population density in China.
According to national survey in 2015, Gansu province has 132 wild giant pandas. Baishuijiang National Nature Reserve is situated on the southern part of Gansu Province, provide a good environment for many endangered animals including giant pandas.
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