Created By: Brianna Brullo
Facts on Pandas
The Panda, also known as the Giant Panda, is a species of Chinese bear, black-and-white in color, which is almost on the brink of extinction. Although it is difficult to take a census of their numbers in the wild, it is thought that there are only around 1000 of them existing in the wild, while there are a little over one hundred of them in captivity. Given below are some more fascinating facts on pandas.
The panda has a typically bear-like body, however, it has unique coloring on its coat that marks it out quite distinctively. The fur on its legs, shoulders, eyes, and ears, as well as its muzzle is black, while the rest of the fur on its body is snowy white. Although the exact reason for this unusual coloring of its coat is not known, it is speculated that it provides a very good camouflage for the animal in its snowy and rocky habitat dappled with the shadows of the trees and plants.
These seemingly cuddly large bears have a short tail, round shaped ears, a heavy-set physique, and a big head. In Chinese, the Panda is called 'Da Xiong Mao', meaning 'giant bear cat'. This is because unlike other bears which have eyes with round pupils, the Panda's eyes have cat-like vertical slits as pupils.
Pandas sit in an upright position while eating. This frees their front paws, with which they grasp their food. As a matter of fact, they have unique front paws, with five fingers with claws along with another appendage which they use as an opposable thumb, which is not really like the human thumb, but is an extra long growth of their wrist bone.
Similar in size to the American Black Bear, the Panda is about 2-3 feet in height, at the shoulder, when it stands on all its four legs, and is about 4-6 feet in length. The males weigh around 250 lbs, while the females are about 220 lbs.
Once the Giant Pandas ranged all over eastern and southern China, North Vietnam, and Myanmar. These days, however, they occur in only a small area of China. This is because logging has caused a drastic shrinkage of its habitat, which is also one of the main threats to the survival of these unique creatures.
The Pandas live at heights between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, in coniferous and broad-leafed forests, which have a dense undergrowth of bamboo. These forests are filled with heavy mist and rains around the year, and are usually cloaked in thick clouds.
Amongst all the species of bears, the diet of the Pandas is the most specialized, comprising almost entirely of bamboo. In fact, in the wild the Panda survives on just two types of bamboo, the umbrella bamboo and the arrow bamboo. It also will eat small amounts of other types of grasses and sometimes the fawns of musk deer and small rodents. In captivity, Pandas have a wider variety in their diet, eating rice gruel, sugar cane, specially made high-fiber biscuits, sweet potatoes, apples, and carrots, apart from bamboo.
Unlike other bears that live in temperate regions, and because their food is available throughout the year, Pandas do not go into hibernation. Another reason for this is that their diet of bamboo does not provide them with enough nourishment in order to fatten them for hibernating in the winter.
Although adult Pandas are usually solitary, meeting only to mate, however they are known to communicate with each other at other times too by calling, meeting occasionally in groups, and leaving scent marks. Even though female Pandas usually give birth to two offspring, generally only one of them survives. Panda cubs remain with their mother from 1½ to 3 years.
Man is the main enemy of the Giant Panda, with them still being hunted for their pelts. And yet, ironically, they are regarded as a symbol of peace in their homeland, China.
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