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China Giant Panda

China Giant pandas are known as the living fossils and the national treasures . They are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized but rarest animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts. Here are some facts about this lovely animal:

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia    Phylum: Chordata    Class: Mammalia    Order: Carnivora   Family: Ursidae    Genus: Ailuropoda    Species: A. melanoleuca

Binomial Name: Ailuropoda melanoleucaGiant Panda Range Subspecies: A. melanoleuca melanoleuca ; A. melanoleuca qinlingensis

Geographic Distribution
Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China's Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.

Habitat
Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. Torrential rains or dense mist throughout the year characterizes these forests, often shrouded in heavy clouds.

Physical Description
A giant panda is bear-like in shape. It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage into their shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. Many people find these chunky, lumbering animals to be cute, but giant pandas can be as dangerous as any other bear.

Size
About the size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.

Status
The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. It is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. There are about 1,000 left in the wild. About 140 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China.

Life Span
Scientists are not sure how long giant pandas live in the wild, but they are sure it is shorter than lifespans in zoos. Chinese scientists have reported zoo pandas as old as 35.

Diet
A wild giant panda's diet is almost exclusively (99 percent) bamboo. The balance consists of other grasses and occasional small rodents or musk deer fawns. In zoos, giant pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, rice gruel, a special high-fiber biscuit, carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes.

Social Structure
Adult giant pandas are generally solitary, but they do communicate periodically through scent marks, calls, and occasional meetings. Offspring stay with their mothers from one and a half to three years.


Giant Panda FAQs:
-Does the panda hibernate for the winter?
Unlike the other bears, the giant panda does not hibernate for the winter.

How to say panda in Chinese?
In Chinese, panda is spelled in xióng māo. The characters are 熊猫

-The panda likes hot or cold?
The panda has no fear of the harsh winter, but the hot summer.

-Can the panda climb trees?
All the pandas are experts for climbing trees.

-Can the panda swim?
The panda like water, it can swim.

-How about the panda's hearing and smell?
The panda has got very sensitive hearing and a good nose.

-How about the vision of the giant panda?
Naturally, the giant panda has poor eyesight for always living in the dense forests.

-The pandas eat flesh?
The progenitors of pandas were carnivorous. Today, they still keep some habits from their progenitors. Provided circumstances permit they will eat flesh.

-How many pandas are left in the world?
China currently has about 1,000 giant pandas in the wild, most of them living on the mountains around the Sichuan Basin, southwest China,according to the Ministry of Forestry.

-What is being done to save giant pandas?
Currently, the Chinese government in conjunction with the WWF are doing all that is possible to save the giant panda. This includes further research on how to manipulate bamboo to be sturdier and faster to recover after die-off cycles. In addition the following is being done:

Conservation education and public awareness activities; international breeding programs in zoos around the world. Creation of 14 new panda reserves in China bringing the total of giant panda reserves to 26. Corridors, forest links, between the isolated populations are being constructed to help increase the range in which the panda lives in order that the exchange of genetic material between wild populations will increase. Continued research and artificial insemination of giant pandas attempt to continually increase their numbers.

-What are giant panda's enemies?
Man is the giant panda's most dangerous. The adult giant panda has very few natural enemies. One of the known enemies of the giant panda is the snow leopard, which may seize a baby panda that has wondered away from its mother or a pack of wild dogs may also capture a wondering cub. The continued population growth in China slowly and steadily depletes the bamboo forests and replaces them with cities or additional farming areas. To a lesser degree the Bamboo Rat which burrows underground, eats the roots of the bamboo growth which obviously kills the plant, leaving one less plant for the giant panda to eat.

-What is the life span of a giant panda?
The average life span of the giant panda, in the wild is about 15 years, but in captivity they have been known to live well into their 20's and rarely into their 30's.

-How does that giant panda protect itself against its enemies?
Giant pandas signify aggression by lowering their heads and staring at their opponents. The giant panda is a generally a passive animal and not initiate to attack man or other animals. Giant pandas, however can become violent when provoked or surprised. Generally when hearing abnormal sounds the giant panda will escape the area immediately or they will climb the nearest tree. Should they become trapped the giant panda will cover their face with their paws often hiding its eye-patches and curl up. This gesture states that they are scared and/or angry. At close range, aggression is signaled by a swipe with a paw, or by a low-pitched growl or bark that will generally send an opponent (another giant panda) scampering up the nearest tree.

-Why are giant pandas endangered?
Habitat encroachment and destruction are the greatest threats to the continued existence of the giant panda. This is mainly because of the demand for land and natural resources by China's one billion plus inhabitants. In addition giant pandas are also susceptible to poaching, or illegal killing, as their dense fur carries a high price in the black markets in the Far East.

-How can I help save or assist in financing research for giant pandas?
You can adopt the giant panda in four places south China's Sichuan Province: The Fengtongzhai Natural Reserve, Chengdu Zoo, Bifengxia Panda Base, Chengdu Giant Panda Base, and the Wolong Panda Reserve.

The below tour packages are perfect for travelers who want to learn more fact about China pandas

5-Day China Panda Tour

8-Day Grand Sichuan Tour

10-Day Best Of Sichuan

15-Day China Panda Trip

30-Day China Panda Bear Tour

Questions & Comments

  • Erin Johnson on December 10, 2010, 12:32 am

    what year did the giant panda become a symbol in china?

  • Erin on December 9, 2010, 12:55 am

    what time period did the panda's become a symbol in the chinese culture?

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