Interesting Panda Facts

The Chinese name "da xiong mao" means "big bear cat".

Scientific Name: Ailurus Fulgens Styani

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ailurinae , Ailuropodidae
Genus: Ailuropoda
Species: melanoleuca.

Giant pandas only exist today in the wild in six small areas located in central China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. The habitat, suitable for the bamboo that constitutes the majority of their diet, is a cold, damp mountainous region ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet elevation. They live in deciduous and coniferous forests with a dense undergrowth of bamboo where torrential rains or thick year-round fog are common. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, clear-cutting of forests, and development of land now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.

An adult panda can weigh as much as 300 pounds and measures five to six feet in length. Male pandas typically weigh 250 pounds while females rarely reach 220 pounds.

A giant panda’s fur has an oily coating that helps protect them from the cool and damp climate in which they live. A panda’s fur is thick and coarse on the outer layer and very dense and wooly closer to the skin. Giant pandas have black skin under the black fur and pink skin under the white fur.

The giant panda's teeth are approximately 7 times bigger than human teeth. They also have very powerful jaws and teeth for crushing bamboo. They have poor eyesight, but a good sense of smell. Giant pandas do not hibernate, and can live as long as 35 years in captivity.

A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively bamboo. Pandas eat over fifteen different kinds of bamboo. Due to their inefficient digestive systems (up to 50% of the plant material they eat passes out of their bodies within 10 hours undigested) pandas must spend 12 to 16 hours a day eating. A giant panda can consume up to 80 pounds of bamboo in a day, but they typically eat 20 to 40 pounds per day.
Pandas also occasionally eat fish, small birds and rodents when they can catch them. In captivity giant pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, rice, fruits and vegetables.

Male giant pandas have relatively small territories, ranging normally only over a two square mile area that may overlap the territories of several females. Female Pandas have been found to stay in very small areas of only about 100 acres.

Panda cubs are pink and hairless or have fine white hair when they are born, are smaller than a can of Coke, and weigh merely three to four ounces. Giant Panda mothers are 900 times bigger than their blind newborn cubs. Pandas sometimes bear twins, but normally only one will survive.
Pandas are mammals, and panda mothers nurse their young for approximately the first nine months. Cubs don’t open their eyes until they are six to eight weeks old. They learn to walk at three months, and start eating bamboo at five to six months. Young pandas will be fully weaned at nine months but will stay under the protection of their mothers until they reach two or three years of age.

Giant pandas start breeding between four and eight years of age. Female pandas are only fertile for a few days a year, in the spring. Calls and scents draw males and females to each other. Females have a gestation period between 95 and 160 days. They may continue to bear offspring until about age 20, but they produce no more than one cub every two years.

Pandas are becoming extinct, mainly due to the destruction of their habitat by humans. Nearly 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, while about 140 pandas currently live in captivity in zoos in China, Japan, Spain, Germany, France, Korea, USA and Mexico. To learn more about giant pandas and how to protect them visit World Wildlife Fund.


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