The giant panda
cat-foot";) is a mammal classified in the bear family,
Ursidae, native to central-western and southwestern China.
It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes,
ears and on its round body. Though belonging to the order Carnivora, the panda
has a diet which is 99% bamboo. However, they may eat other foods such as honey,
eggs, fish and yams.
Giant panda at the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research
Centre in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg
The Giant Panda is an endangered animal; an estimated
3,000 pandas live in the wild
and over 180 were reported to live in captivity by August 2006 in mainland China
(another source by the end of 2006 put the figure for China at 221),
with twenty pandas living outside of China.
However, reports show that the numbers of wild panda are on the rise.
The giant panda is a favourite of the public, at least partly on account of
the fact that the species has an appealing baby-like cuteness that makes it seem
to resemble a living teddy bear. The fact that it is usually depicted reclining
peacefully eating bamboo, as opposed to hunting, also adds to its image of
innocence. Though the giant panda is often assumed docile because of their
cuteness, they have been known to attack humans, usually assumed to be out of
irritation rather than predatory behaviour.
Pass It On
The Giant Panda has a very distinctive black-and-white coat. Adults measure
around 1.5 m long and around 75 cm tall at the shoulder. Males can weigh up to
115 kg (253 pounds). Females are generally smaller than males, and can
occasionally weigh up to 100 kg (220 pounds). Giant Pandas live in mountainous
regions, such as Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, and Tibet. While the Chinese dragon
has been historically a national emblem for China, since the latter half of the
20th century the Giant Panda has also become an informal national emblem for
China. Its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative
silver, gold, and platinum coins.
The Giant Panda has an unusual paw, with a "thumb" and five fingers; the
"thumb" is actually a modified sesamoid bone, which helps the panda to hold the
bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay about this, then used the
title The Panda's Thumb for a book of essays concerned with evolution and
intelligent design. The Giant Panda has a short tail, approximately 15 cm long.
Giant Pandas can usually live to be 20-30 years old while living in captivity.
Until recently, scientists thought giant pandas spent most of their lives
alone, with males and females meeting only during the breeding season. Recent
studies paint a different picture, in which small groups of pandas share a large
territory and sometimes meet outside the breeding season.
Like most subtropical mammals, but unlike most bears, the giant panda does
Despite its taxonomic classification as a carnivore, the panda has a diet
that is primarily herbivorous, which consists almost exclusively of bamboo.
However, pandas still have the digestive system of a carnivore and do not have
the ability to digest cellulose efficiently, and thus derive little energy and
little protein from consumption of bamboo. The average Giant Panda eats as much
as 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo shoots a day. Because pandas consume a diet low in
nutrition, it is important that they keep their digestive tract full.
As the average temperature of the region has increased, the panda has pushed
its habitat to a higher altitude and limited the available space. Furthermore,
the timber profit, gained from harvesting bamboo - the panda's food - has
destroyed the food supply for the wild panda because of all these elements.
1973-1984 the population of wild pandas decreased by 50 percent in six areas of
Asia. Although giant pandas subsist on an herbivore's diet, they retain the
relatively simple digestive trait of a carnivore. The panda's round face is an
adaptation to its bamboo diet. Their powerful jaw muscles attach from the top of
the head to the jaw. Large molars crush and grind fibrous plant material.
Twenty-five species of bamboo are eaten by pandas in the wild, but it is hard
to live in the remains of a forest and feed on dying plants in a rugged
landscape. Only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas
now inhabit. Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels, stems have less.
Because of the synchronous flowering, death and regeneration of all bamboo
species, pandas must have a least two different species available in their range
to avoid starvation. While primarily herbivorous, the panda still retains
decidedly ursine teeth, and will eat meat, fish, and eggs when available. In
captivity, zoos typically maintain the pandas' bamboo diet, though some will
provide specially formulated biscuits or other dietary supplements.
|Giant Pandas are adept climbers
For many decades the precise taxonomic classification of the panda was under
debate as both the giant panda and the distantly related red panda share
characteristics of both bears and raccoons. However, genetic testing suggests
that giant pandas are true bears and part of the Ursidae family, though they
differentiated early in history from the main ursine stock. The giant panda's
closest ursine relative is the Spectacled Bear of South America. (Disagreement
still remains about whether or not the red panda belongs in Ursidae, the raccoon
family Procyonidae, or in its own family, Ailuridae.)
Two subspecies of giant panda have been recognized on the basis of distinct
cranial measurements, color patterns, and population genetics (Wan et al.,
Ailuropoda melanoleuca melanoleuca consists of most extant
populations of panda. These animals are principally found in Sichuan and display
the typical stark black and white contrasting colors.
Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis is restricted to the
Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi at elevations of 1300–3000 m. The typical black and
white pattern of Sichuan Pandas is replaced with a dark brown versus light brown
pattern. The skull of A. m. qinlingensis is smaller than its relatives
and it has larger molars.
Uses and human interaction
Unlike many other animals in ancient China, pandas were rarely thought to
have medical uses. In the past, pandas were thought to be rare and noble
creatures; the mother of Emperor Wen of Han was buried with a panda skull in her
tomb. Emperor Taizong of Tang was said to have given Japan two pandas and a
sheet of panda skin as a sign of goodwill.
The gaint panda was first made known to the West in 1869 by the French
missionary Armand David, who received a skin from a hunter on 11 March 1869. The
first westerner known to have seen a living giant panda is the German zoologist
Hugo Weigold, who purchased a cub in 1916. Kermit and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.,
became the first foreigners to shoot a panda, on an expedition funded by the
Field Museum of Natural History in the 1920s. In 1936, Ruth Harkness became the
first Westerner to bring back a live giant panda, a cub named Su-Lin
who went to live at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. These activities were halted
in 1937 because of wars; and for the next half of the century, the West knew
little of pandas.
Loans of giant pandas to American and Japanese zoos formed an important part
of the diplomacy of the People's Republic of China in the 1970s as it marked
some of the first cultural exchanges between the PRC and the West. This practice
has been termed "Panda Diplomacy".
By the year 1984, however, pandas were no longer used as agents of diplomacy.
Instead, China began to offer pandas to other nations only on 10-year loans. The
standard loan terms include a fee of up to US$ 1,000,000 per year and a
provision that any cubs born during the loan are the property of the People's
Republic of China. Since 1998, due to a WWF lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service only allows a U.S. zoo to import a panda if the zoo can ensure that
China will channel more than half of its loan fee into conservation efforts for
wild pandas and their habitat.
In May 2005, the People's Republic of China offered Taiwan (Republic of
China) two pandas as a gift. This proposed gift was met by polarized opinions
from Taiwan due to complications stemming from cross-strait relations. So far
Taiwan has not accepted the offer. 
Giant pandas are an endangered species, threatened by continued habitat loss
and by a very low birth-rate, both in the wild and in captivity.
Pandas have been a target for poaching by locals since ancient times and by
foreigners since they were introduced to the West. Starting in the 1930s,
foreigners were unable to poach pandas in China because of the Second
Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, but pandas remained a source of
soft furs for the locals. The population boom in China after 1949 created stress
on the pandas' habitat, and the subsequent famines led to the increased hunting
of wildlife, including pandas. During the Cultural Revolution, all studies and
conservation activities on the pandas were stopped. After the Chinese economic
reform, demands for panda skin from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching
for the black market, acts generally ignored by the local officials at the time.
|Close up of a baby 7-month old panda cub in the Wolong Nature Reserve in
Sichuan, China. Photo by Sheila Lau.
Though the Wolong National Nature Reserve was set up by the PRC government in
1958 to save the declining pandas, few advances in the conservation of pandas
were made, due to inexperience and insufficient knowledge in ecology. Many
believed that the best way to save the pandas was to cage them, and as a result,
the pandas were caged for any sign of decline, and they suffered from terrible
conditions. Because of pollution and destruction of their natural habitat, along
with segregation due to caging, reproduction of wild pandas was severely
limited. In the 1990s, however, several laws (including gun controls and moving
residents out of the reserves) helped the chances of survival for pandas. With
the ensued efforts and improved conservation methods, wild pandas have started
to increase in numbers in some areas, even though they still are classified as a
In 2006, scientists reported that the number of pandas living in the wild may
have been underestimated at about 1,000. Previous population surveys had used
conventional methods to estimate the size of the wild panda population, but
using a new hi-tech method that analyzes DNA from panda droppings, scientists
believed that the wild panda population may be as large as 3,000. Although the
species is still endangered, it is thought that the conservation efforts are
working. As of 2006, there were 40 panda reserves in China, compared to just 13
reserves two decades ago.
Giant pandas are among the world's most adored and protected rare animals,
and is one of the few in the world whose natural inhabitant status was able to
gain a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The Sichuan Giant Panda
Sanctuaries, located in the southwest Sichuan province and covering 7 natural
reserves, was inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2006.
Contrary to popular belief, Gaint pandas do not reproduce slowly. Recent
studies have shown that wild pandas reproduce as well as North American brown
bears. A female panda may have 2-3
cubs in a lifetime, on average. Growth is slow and pandas may not reach sexual
maturity until they are five to seven years old. The mating season usually takes
place from mid-March to mid-May. During this time, two to five males can compete
for one female; the male with the highest rank gets the female. When mating, the
female is in a crouching, head-down position as the male mounts from behind.
Copulation time is short, ranging from thirty seconds to five minutes, but the
male may mount repeatedly to ensure successful fertilization.
The whole gestation period ranges from 83 to 163 days, with 135 days being
the average. Baby pandas weigh only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces), which
is about 1/900th of the mother’s weight. Usually, the female panda gives birth
to one or two panda cubs. Since baby pandas are born very small and helpless,
they need the mother’s undivided attention, so she is able to care for only one
of her cubs. She usually abandons one of her cubs, and it dies soon after birth.
At this time, scientists do not know how the female chooses which cub to raise,
and this is a topic of ongoing research. The father has no part in helping with
raising the cub.
Giant Panda, Mei Xiang, plays with son, 7 month old Tai Shan, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006, at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC. Tai Shan was born on July 9, 2005, and weighs over 33lbs
When the cub is first born, it is pink, naked and blind. It nurses from its
mother's breast 6–14 times a day for up to 30 minutes each time. For three to
four hours, the mother might leave the den to feed, which leaves the panda cub
defenceless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its
hair will eventually become black. A slight pink colour may appear on the
panda's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's
saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub’s fur is fully
developed. A cub's fur is very soft and coarsens with age. The cub begins to
crawl at 75 to 90 days and the mothers play with their cubs by rolling and
wrestling with them. The cubs are able to eat small quantities of bamboo after
six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the
first year. Giant panda cubs weigh 45 kg (99.2 pounds) at one year and live with
their mother until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between
births in the wild is generally two years.
Breeders and biologists often experience difficulty in inducing captive
pandas to mate, threatening their already diminished population. This problem
may stem from the captive bears' lack of experience. In an attempt to remedy
this, some keepers in China and Thailand have shown their subjects videos
containing footage of mating pandas. In some cases, the bears have been
sufficiently stimulated from the videos to engage in reproductive activity. It
is not likely that the animals actually learn mating behaviors from the video;
rather, scientists believe that hearing the associated sounds has a stimulating
effect on the bears exposed to it.
The name "panda" originates with a Himalayan language, possibly Nepalese. And
as used in the West it was originally applied to the red panda, to which the giant panda was thought to be related. Until its relation to the red panda
was discovered in 1901, the giant panda was known as Mottled Bear (Ailuropus
melanoleucus) or Particolored Bear.
The Chinese language name for the giant panda, 大熊貓, literally translates to
"large bear cat", or just "bear cat" (熊貓).
Most bears' eyes have round pupils. The exception is the giant panda, whose
pupils are vertical slits like cats' eyes. These unusual eyes, combined with its
ability to effortlessly scale trees,Giant Panda Climbing Tree Getty Images
are what inspired the Chinese to call the panda the "large bear cat".
Pandas in zoos
A 2006 New York Times article  outlined the economics of keeping
pandas, which costs five times more than that of the next most expensive animal,
an elephant. American zoos must pay the Chinese government $2 million a year in
fees, part of what is typically a ten-year contract. San Diego's contract with
China is the first to expire, in 2008. The last contract in Memphis ends in
As of early 2007, five major North American zoos have giant pandas:
- San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California - home of Bai Yun (F), Gao Gao (M), Mei
Sheng (M), and a female cub named Su Lin
- US National Zoo, Washington, D.C. - home of Mei Xiang (F), Tian Tian (M),
and a male cub named Tai Shan
- Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia - home of Lun Lun (F), Yang Yang (M), and a
female cub named Mei Lan (F)
- Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee - home of Ya Ya (F) and Le Le (M)
- Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City - home of Shuan Shuan, Xin Xin, and Xi Hua, all
Notable North American-born pandas
- Tai Shan, born July 9, 2005 at the National Zoo in Washington.
- Su Lin, born August 2, 2005 at the San Diego Zoo.
- Mei Lan, born September 6, 2006 at Zoo Atlanta.
Two zoos in Europe show giant pandas:
- Zoologischer Garten Berlin, Berlin, Germany - home of Bao Bao, age 27, the
oldest male panda living in captivity; he has been in Berlin for 25 years and
has never reproduced.
- Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria - home to two pandas (a male and a
female) born in Wolong, China in 2000.
London, Madrid, and Paris no longer have pandas, although Madrid is exploring
the possibility of obtaining pandas in the future.
- Chengdu Research base of Giant Panda Breeding, Chengdu, Sichuan, China -
Home to a number of captive giant pandas, including 2-year old Xiong Bang (M),
who just arrived from Japan. Twelve
cubs were born here in 2006.
- Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, Sichuan, China -
Seventeen cubs were born here in 2006.
- Chiang Mai Zoo, Chiang Mai, Thailand - home to Chuang Chuang (M) and Lin Hui
(F). Much to the joy of the public, the two have recently been observed mating
and it is hoped that cubs will be produced from the union.
- Ocean Park, Hong Kong - home to Jia Jia (F) and An An (M). An extra two
pandas will be added to Ocean Park on May 1, 2007
Pandas in Japan have double names: a Japanese name and a Chinese name. Three
zoos in Japan show giant pandas:
- Ueno Zoo, Tokyo - home of Ling Ling (M), he is the only panda with "Japanese
- Oji Zoo, Kobe, Hyogo - home of Kou Kou (M), Tan Tan (F)
- Adventure World, Shirahama, Wakayama - Ei Mei (M), Mei Mei (F), Rau Hin (F),
Ryu Hin and Syu Hin (male twins), and Kou Hin (M). Yu Hin (M) went to China in
2004. In December 2006, twin cubs were born to Ei Mei and Mei Mei.
On Tuesday, August 8, 2006 a giant panda in Beijing, China, gave birth to the
heaviest cub born in captivity after the longest period in labor. The cub
weighed just 218 grams (half a pound), but was still the heaviest panda ever
born in captivity, where most cubs are born at between 83 and 190 grams. The
whole process lasted about 34 hours and was the longest in the history of panda
Another Panda in Beijing named Gu Gu recently came to fame when he bit a
drunken man who had jumped into his exhibit and tried to hug him.
Pandas on television
The first sequences of pandas in the wild were shot by Franz Camenzind for
American Broadcasting Company in about 1982. They were bought by BBC Natural
History Unit for their weekly magazine show Nature.
Recently NHNZ has featured pandas in two documentaries. Panda Nursery
(2006) featured China’s Wolong Nature Reserve in the mountains in Sichuan
Province, forty giant pandas and a dedicated team of staff play a crucial role
in ensuring the survival of the species. As part of the Reserve’s panda breeding
programme, a revolutionary new method of rearing twin cubs called ‘swap-raising’
has been developed. Each cub is raised by both its natural mother and one of the
Reserve’s veterinarians, Wei Rongping, to increase the chances of both cubs
surviving. Growing Up: Giant Panda (2003) featured Chengdu Giant Panda
Centre in south-west China as one of the best in the world. But with female
pandas' short fertility cycles and low birth rates, raising the captive panda
population is an uphill battle.
Pandas in popular culture
Pandas are a popular animal in eastern and western culture. In part due to
their widely recognized cuteness, Pandas have often appeared in television
programs, cartoons, and picture-books while their images have graced all manner
of consumer products. For example:
- Panda Express is the name of an American fast food chain that serves
American Chinese cuisine. Panda Express' logo is a cartoon panda. Some
franchises give donations to panda preservation groups. Other Americanized
Chinese restaurants may have names such as Panda Garden and Panda Palace.
- The title of Lynne Truss's book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero
Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature logo is a stylized panda.
- A panda named Jing Jing is one of the Friendlies, the mascots for the 2008
Summer Olympics in Beijing.
- Pandaren, humanised versions of Pandas appear several times in Blizzard's
RTS game Warcraft III - The Frozen Throne as a playable hero in the Orc campaign.
The Pandaren are depicted as devout brewers of alcohol, possibly a reference to
the incident involving a drunken man and a Panda. Pandaren were also thought to
be the secret new race for the Alliance in World of Warcraft: The Burning
Crusade, until it was revealed to be the Draenei.
- 'Panda' is a playable character in the arcade fighting game Tekken. Within
the game storyline, Panda is a pet of the character Ling Xiaoyu.
- The Giant Panda is the most expensive animal in Zoo Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon 2,
therefore making it the hardest to keep.
- Tarepanda is a popular mascot cartoon for the San-X company in Japan that
produces stationary and office supplies. The name means "lazy panda".
- In the manga and anime series Ranma ½, Ranma's father Genma
transforms into a giant, mute panda when he is doused in cold water. As a panda
he communicates by holding up signs.
- The Panda is the informal national animal of China.
- A panda who learns martial arts is the central character in the forthcoming
animated film Kung Fu Panda (2008), voiced by Jack Black.
- There is a Sanrio fictional character named Pandaba, who is a sidekick of
- Enjoi Skateboards' logo is a stylized panda.
- The birth of a baby panda is a central plot point of the movie
The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004).
- Andy Panda was a series of animated cartoon short subjects produced by
Walter Lantz and released by Universal Pictures from 1939 to 1949.
- There is a Mexican rock band named Panda.
- The webcomic PvP has a running joke in which the character Brent Sienna is
attacked by a giant panda whenever the word 'panda' is spoken.
- In Mexico, gummy bears are often called "panditas" (little pandas), due to
the most popular brand of gummy bears adopted as a generic name.
- In the South Park episode Sexual Harassment Panda, the title
character is a mascot, a man dressed in panda costume that explains to the
children why sexual harassment is bad.
- The children's show Mister Rogers Neighbourhood featured a character named
Purple Panda, who came from a planet where everything was purple.
- Washington Metro farecards have pictures of pandas printed on them.
- The character Tenten of Naruto, her name is based off double names commonly
given too pandas; her hairstyle is also based on panda ears.
|Panda in Moscow Zoo on 1964 Soviet Union 2 kopeks postal stamp
More pictures of the Giant Panda
Giant Panda Tian Tian - National Zoo in Washington, D.C. - 2004
|that baby panda is so
improve goodwill between the USA and China
|why did the Chinese give
2 Pandas to the Americans as a present ?
pandas. I'm sad that there endangered.
|do people even realize how much these animals are endangered
|I held a 7 month old panda this year in China. It was the most
amazing experience. I love them, they are so cute. Melinda
|giant pandas are cool you hurt them i hurt you
|I LOVE PANDAS WE SHOULD HELP THEM PROTECT THEM - THE ONE WE CARE
|i love panda. panda so pretty. love panda love.
|I Love Panda
We Must Save Panda's Population
|Pandaz iz like da best eva y dont we use r squids 2 make des things
less indangered innit. CHAV.
|I think they are so cutie and they need to help them more to keep
them alive and not put them in ZOOS. AND THEY NEED TO HELP ALL THE
BABIES THEY FIND THAT THE MOM DOES NOT TAKE CARE OF!!!
|who would kill a panda?
|I LOVE PANDAS
|great, I was in Chengdu and it was an astonishing experience
|OMGOSH - PANDAS ARE SO SUPER COOL - I LOVE THEM SO MUCH
|baby giant panas sooo cute
|cute pictures of the pandas
|I have to do a book report on giant pandas . I think they are so
|i love pandas.
i think they are so cute.
who doesn't? ^ ^
|Pandas r like my best animal ever!! I love Pandas. I had to do a
report about an animal nd I chosed pandas cuz they r like soooo CUTE
ND CUDDLY. Pandas rock my SOX!!!
|The babies look like teddy bears. They don't even look real, and are
so cuddly-looking! Why don't
you have any pictures of them in their "teddy bear stage" as a cub?
|I have to do a project on these animals too. how cute are they?
who is cute and cuddly?
who is black and white?
who's baby cries all night?
|i am doing project on these cute fluffly animals! lucky me
|I'M A PANDA ^_^
|I noticed most, if not all, of your information is copied directly
from wikipedia. I don't mind, just there was a comment box and I
as shown at page base - Cheers :-)
|I LOVE PANDAS
|i love pandas their so cute ......my room is filled with pandas
|Panda's are great
I think this is good...'m doing a project on Giant
Pandas, and this site was really helpful
|i love giant pandas because they are a cool animal and they are good
animal however this website could have some more pictures.
Those pictures are so cute!
I LOVE GIANT PANDAS
Is Animal marketing right?
this website is really good however it could have some more