Giant Panda Bear
The giant panda bear is found at the top of the Yangtze Basin. Its range is confined to small remote mountain areas in the central China provinces of Sichuan, Gansus, and Shaanxi. Its population is declining since its original habitat has been reduced to a mere fraction due to deforestation, farming, global warming, poaching, hunting dogs, and other activities related to mankind.
Often nicknamed the Asian bear or Oriental bear, the panda bear once lived in Vietnam and Burma. Left unprotected, endangered pandas would inevitably become extinct. Mysterious and unknown in the past, many fascinating facts and information are continuously being discovered about male and female pandas and their baby cubs.
PANDA CUBSPanda cubs are adored for their puppy-like resemblance and unique color scheme. Who can resist their fluffy white fur with black circle eyes, ears, and stripes. On all fours they resemble a cuddly puppy.
Many facts contribute to the plight of the endangered panda. Panda cubs are born in small litters, often only one. Where they live and the robustness of their habitat determines their survival. Since the mother’s reproduction rate is limited, specie propagation is fragile. The more information and facts we know about baby pandas the better we can insure their survival.
Panda bear cubs are born to play. But the survival skills they learn from their mother are critical. With proper skills and a favorable environment, cubs can mature to adulthood and continue the cycle of reproduction to save the species. The owl is an enemy of panda babies.
The life of a panda cub has some fascinating characteristics. See our page of interesting facts about baby pandas.
Although their habitat and population is on the decline, giant panda facts are more abundant today thanks to the studies of animal scientists and conservation groups. Difficult to observe in the wild, giant panda and cub information was scarce and difficult to gather.
Today much is known about their habitat, life cycle, baby pandas, and their endangered status. Classification of the panda seems to be clarified for now. The more panda research studies conducted, the more we will learn about this precious bear and how we can insure it survives from becoming extinct.
Panda bear features are unique. They are medium sized bears that have a more round figure than their cousins. In fact they are often portrayed as a roundish dog in early information sketches. They have white with black ears and teardrop circles around their eyes. Their arms and legs are black along with a band extending from their front arms around their back. Their tail is short and white.
Of all the endangered bear species they have the most distinguished color combination. Their color is uniform across their entire population. Baby pandas do not initially possess these unique characteristics. After a few months cubs form their familiar patterns. The unusual color patterns have caused much confusion in its scientific classification.
Some researchers theorize that the black and white colors protect the panda from enemies where it lives. The colors are designed to blend in with the black mountain rock terrain and white snow.
WEIGHT AND SIZE
Panda dimensions vary but statistics reveal that the weight of a male panda is about 175 to 250 pounds. The female weighs about 150 to 225 pounds. Their average height is about two to three feet tall when standing on four legs. Females are slightly less, about half a foot shorter. Males can reach five to six feet in length. The female panda is almost as long, sometimes identical. The tail reaches four to seven inches in length.
GIANT PANDA POPULATION
One of the most alarming panda bear facts is the size of their total population. The worldwide total estimate is less than 1600 and has put the giant panda bear on the endangered species list. Their ability to survive as a species is challenging. The most critical factor is the destruction of their natural habitat. Education, conservation, reserves, and captive breeding are some of the efforts being practiced to prevent their numbers from declining.
HOW LONG DO PANDAS LIVE?
The giant panda lifespan is difficult to determine in the wild. Studies indicate that the average estimate is somewhere between 15 and 25 years. However some captive pandas have been reported to live past the age of 30. In the wild their life may be shortened by encounters with poachers. Premature starvation can occur when areas of bamboo die off and they are unable to cross into territories containing healthy bamboo.
Pandas live in remote mountainous areas that have dense forests of bamboo. Their remaining living area is at very high altitudes that have not been developed by people. They may descend to lower levels to live during the winter, but not past the point where humans are present. Endangered panda bears are continuously losing their habitat. Loss is most acute at lower levels where deforestation, farming, housing, and other projects of civilization occur.
GIANT PANDA ENEMIES
Panda bear information is rare when it comes to their predators. They simply do not have many.
Their main enemy is man. People hunt panda bears for their unique colored pelts. Human destruction of its natural habitat is the biggest threat and has pushed the animal to the brink of extinction.
Another enemy is the snow leopard. The leopard is a predator of baby panda cubs once they wander from their mother. However in the mother’s presence the leopard dare not attack. The mother will attack vigorously to defend her young.
Pandas avoid people and their living areas. But when they wander nearby, roaming dogs owned by villagers have been known to attack them.
Panda attacks are rare. These animals are docile, reclusive, and avoid people. In the wild contact with humans seldom occurs due to their remote habit. However angry panda bears can attack to defend themselves or their young if provoked.
Most people find pandas adorable. Although rare, “attacks” can occur when a person approaches an adult panda in a zoo or reserve to tease, pet, feed, or take a photo beside it. Adult panda bears should be respected and treated like any other wild animal.
Classification information on the giant panda bear has not been without controversy due to its unique traits. Once thought to be bear, it was later placed in the raccoon family. The giant panda was linked to the red panda, an animal more raccoon like in appearance which has similar characteristics and consumes bamboo.
Some even though it was related to the dog family. Genetic panda information from numerous scientific research projects now indicate that the giant panda is closer to the bear family. At least all agree that research facts indicate the panda is gravely endangered.
WHAT DO PANDAS EAT?
The giant panda has a very specialized diet consisting nearly entirely of bamboo. It eats all parts of the bamboo including the stalk, leaves, shoots, and roots. The plant is highly fibrous and low in nutrition. Combined with the fact that pandas digest a very low percentage of what they eat, they must consume huge quantities to absorb sufficient nutrients.
Pandas can eat 30 to 45 pounds of bamboo every day. Once baby pandas are finished nursing, they voraciously dine on bamboo. Panda cubs have been known to devour 5 to 10 pounds a day. When bamboo supplies diminish, populations decline and contribute to their endangered status.
They have evolved specialized features to help them eat their favorite food. Panda teeth are designed to penetrate the fibrous bamboo stalks. The rear molar teeth are huge for grinding down material prior to digestion. Extending from their wrist bone is a unique thumb like feature to grasp bamboo stalks. This is in addition to their five fingers!
Giant panda bear information from studies in the wild indicate that bamboo is nearly 95% of their diet. However, wild giant panda food may include roots, tubers, and bark. Many facts indicate they may also eat wild yams if available in their habitat. They may occasionally graze on grass (like dogs). In captivity, some zoos supplement the pandas diet by feeding them bananas, oatmeal, vegetables, and eggs.
The number of wild pandas is small and their habitat reduced to narrow isolated territories. Until recently these remaining areas were cut off from each other, further reducing the panda’s ability to migrate, mate, and locate food.
Since pandas are dependent on a bamboo diet, their diminished habitat has put them at risk. Part of the bamboo plant’s life cycle includes periodic die-offs after flowering. This can affect entire forests of bamboo. Pandas normally roam to new forests, but this is not possible if their range is confined or disconnected.
The giant panda is endangered and conservation is mandatory to save it from extinction. The giant panda is endangered for many reasons: global warming, commercial logging, farming, and illegal poaching.
Always popular, the panda bear has wide spread appeal as stuffed animal toys, cartoon characters, sketch information, logos, and so on. The panda dog is the epitome of panda mania. It is a dog that looks like a panda. The panda dog is testimony to the popularity of this endangered species.
Any dog (or cat) will do. However the ideal “model” should have short hair, round ears, and a short muzzle. It should also have a short tail and rounded body. In fact the rounder the animal the better.
The subject is trimmed to resemble the panda. It is then colored black and white patterns. Ideally the pet's original hair is white so only black coloring has to be applied. With the right features and dimensions the model looks like the real thing. A smaller pet looks like a baby panda!
For more information on pandas check out our Panda Bear Facts.