Giant Panda Facts

The charismatic giant panda is a notable symbol of conservation—and a valuable success story. Reserves in China established to protect the species have grown from eight to more than 60 over the past 30 years. WWF was the first international conservation organization invited into China to help with panda conservation.

Giant Panda Facts
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  • Name: Giant Panda as distinguished from lesser panda. As it is more widely recognized, when people speak about panda now generally they are refering to the giant panda.

  • Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca, bear family.

  • Color: Normally black and white. Complete white ones have been found in the wild. All four sightings were in the Shaanxi Foping Nature Reserve in Qinling Mountains. The first brown-white one was found there too.

  • Length: Average is 5 to 6 feet for males, slightly less for females.

  • Tail length: About one half foot (6 inches).

  • Height: Average is 2 to 3 feet for males, about half a foot less for females.

  • Size at birth: About 4 ounces (113 grams).

  • Weight: Males weigh about 175 to 250 pounds. Females weigh about 150 to 225 pounds. The giant Panda bear weight depends on many factors including diet and environment.

  • Habitat: The panda bears habitat has been reduced to the most remote regions of central China. Their living area is in high mountains remote from humans. Their habitat is being threatened by direct and indirect (global warming) impacts from mankind.

  • Diet: Giant pandas will eat a variety of foods in captivity. However their natural diet is in fact almost exclusively bamboo shoots, leaves, and stalks.

  • Fun fact: Birthday cakes are often offered to captive pandas for fun. The cakes are completely healthy since they are made from ice and vegetables. The candles are usually bamboo sticks.

  • Digestive system: Since the panda is technically classified as a carnivore it is not very efficient at digesting plant material. One for more interesting panda facts is that it is exclusively feeds on bamboo, a low nutrient plant food. They must eat massive quantities to get adequate nutrition. It is estimated that between 30 to 45 pounds of bamboo must be consumed every day!

  • Gestation period: About 100 to 150 days after mating. Conditions in captivity may vary.

  • Panda cub litter size: A mother panda usually has only 1 or 2 babies. More interesting information on baby panda facts.

  • Childhood: Young pandas are much like kids, they like to have fun. They are very energetic and clumsy.

  • Age of maturity: Males mature at about 6 to 7 years. Females about 4 to 5 years.

  • Giant Panda lifestyle: As with most bears they spend a lot of time roaming their territory, foraging for bamboo, and sleeping.

  • Social behavior: The panda is mostly a solitary animal that meets occasionally for social feeding and mating.

  • Communication: Methods include calls, tree scratching, and scent markings.

  • Climbing ability: Giant panda bears are good climbers.

  • Hibernation: One of the more unique panda facts is that the bears do not hibernate. Their main food supply is available all year around. However they may head to lower elevations during the cold season.

  • Live Span: Exact statistics on natural age in the wild are one of the more difficult giant panda facts to determine. However wild pandas are estimated to have a longevity of 15 to 25 years. Captive panda bears have been known to live over 30 years.

  • Conservation status: Endangered.

  • Fun Fact: Giant panda bears have special front paws. Both paws have five fingers plus a thumb! The thumb is actually a wrist bone that has grown outward to help the panda grasp bamboo stalks.

  • Length of Adult Giant Panda: 120-180cm (about 3.9-5.9 feet)

  • Weight of Adult Giant Panda: 80-125kg (about 176-276 pounds)

  • Food: More than 20 kinds of alpine bamboo (especially young fleshy stems and buds, bamboo shoots). An adult panda eats about 40kg (88 pounds) fresh bamboo shoot a day, 14kg (about 31 pounds) bamboo stalks, or 20kg (about 44 pounds) bamboo leaves. It has a greater appetite in summer than winter. In the wild, they may eat other plants and occasionally dead or small animals. Their ancestors were true carnivores. About one million years ago, they began to eat bamboo.

  • Enemies: Asian golden cat, tiger, panther, jackal, wolf, yellow-throated marten

  • Morphological Features: Typical body shape of bears; black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders, light brown or grey fur on belly and the rest of the coat is white; tail length from 10 to 20 cm (3.9-7.9 inches); the paw has five digits and a modified sesamoid bone that enables the animal to hold bamboo while chewing it; wiry and shaggy hair on the back and soft and long hair on the belly.

  • Those living in the Qinling Mountain have a rounder head, smaller skull and bigger teeth that make them look cat like. While Sichuan pandas have a comparatively large and long head, smaller teeth, more closely resembling other bears.

  • Preferred Habits:They like cool and wet areas and do not hibernate. They are naturally solitary choosing to live alone. Although they look plump, they are good at climbing trees, which is instinctive of their ancestor for hunting and escaping from dangers. They like water and usually choose to live nearby the streams. They have good eyesight which allows them to see clearly and find food at night.

  • Territory: A male giant panda's range of activity is approximately 6-7km in a year and they moved around in half of this range each month. A female's range of activity is 4-5km and they will move around within only 1/10 of their territory. Compared with a yearly activity range of 30km for a black bear, their territory is small.

  • Timetable: They spent over half a day searching for food and feeding, over 40% of day for sleeping and only 2% to play. They live alone for most of their life, except one month during the breeding season.

  • Mating and Breeding: In the wild, female pandas are able to reproduce at the age of 6.5, mate and have a baby at the age of 7.5. In capative breeding can commence fall at 3.5 years and produce a baby at 4.5 years. Male ones usually start to mate at 7-8 years old. Pandas are on the rampage when they search for mates, and emit different cries to draw their attention. The breeding season is short, during March to May, and the mating happens in 2-4 days of this period. Wild female pandas can have 3-4 pregnancies at most, usually one baby each time. They raise cubs alone till they fend for themselves, usually at the age of 1.5 or 2.5 if she does not have new cubs.

  • The pregnancy is usually some 130 days. The possibility of having twin cubs is small. When this happens, they are only capable of raising one. The mothers may leave their cub in a hole or hallow tree as go in search of food for two days or longer. The cubs begin to eat bamboo when they are a year old.

  • Lifespan: The average life expectancy of wild giant pandas is 15-20 years while the captive ones can live up to 30 years. Currently, the record age for a captive one is 38 years. Their teenage years are before 5 years old, youth during 5-18 years and old age after 18 years.

  • Location of Natural Habitat: Mainly in southern Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan with 95% living in seven mountain ranges including Qinling, Minshan, etc. Sichuan is the most important habitat, about 80% of China's wild giant pandas.

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