THE BEAUTIFUL GIANT PANDA
In the Chinese languages, the giant panda means “black and white catfoot or big bear cat.” It is a lovely animal with its large black patches around its eyes, over its ears and across its round body. Early fossil remains show that the giant panda has been around for between 1 to 2 milllion years.
The Panda’s Diet
The panda used to have a larger area to roam, eat and breed, but people have started to cut down bamboo forests. The map shows what was once a large roaming area (in pink) and what it has been reduced to today in (red).
Bamboo is the panda’s favourite food and its diet consists of 99% of this plant. Giant pandas in the wild will ocassionally eat other grasses or even a little meat in birds, mice, fish. Giant pandas in zoos or breathing shelters will eat honey, eggs, oranges and bananas as part of their food. The paw of the giant panda’s consists of a sort of thumb and five fingers. The thump or bone helps it to hold the bamboo while eating.
Pandas Live in Just Three Chinese Provinces.
There are less than 300 pandas living in captivity in China plus those on loan to zoos outside the country. As for wild pandas, there were about 268 living mostly in the mountainous areas of China. The panda has now joined the dragon as China’s national symbol.
How big is the Giant Panda?
Length: 1.2 -1.9 m ( 4 to 6 ft)
Tall at shoulder: 60-90 cm (2-3 ft)
Male weight: 160 kg (350 lb)
Female weight: 125kg (276 lbs) or less.
Living in the mountains can often be cold and so the giant panda has a warm wooly coat. He or she can live for up to 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. Jia Jia the oldest giant panda so far, lived to be 38 years of age.
The Young Pandas
Any giant pandas born in zoos outside of China are the property of the Chinese government. They have to be returned with their mother when the lending period is over.
Young giant pandas are usually born in August. Some pandas are not born black and white. They can be brown and white but these are rare.
When they are just born, babies are furless and pink and three weeks later, they get their black and white fur. I will be travelling to China this year and hope to see some pandas in the wild.