Pandas are unique species of bear that can be found in China. Pandas are carnivores, yet 99% of them feed on bamboos. They can eat for 16 hours at a stretch. Isn’t that amazing? Here are more intriguing facts about this black and white bear.
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 around 1000 of them existing in the wild, and one hundred of them in captivity. It’s an endangered species struggling for existence. Let’s look at the basic facts about the panda.
» Panda has a typical bear-like body; however, it has unique coloring on its coat that marks it out quite distinctively. The fur on its legs, shoulders, eyes, 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 pupils of panda’s eyes have cat-like vertical slits.
» 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 and 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 upon a time, the giant pandas ranged all over eastern and southern China, North Vietnam, and Myanmar. These days, however, they occur only in 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.
» Pandas live at heights ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 feet, in coniferous and broad-leaved 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.
» Among 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 arrow bamboo. It also eats 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, sugarcane, specially made high-fiber biscuits, sweet potatoes, apples, and carrots.
» Unlike other bears that live in temperate regions and go for hibernation, pandas do not go into hibernation because their food is available throughout the year. Another reason for this is that their diet of bamboo does not provide them with enough nourishment for hibernating in the winter.
» Although adult pandas are usually solitary, meeting only to mate, they are known to communicate with each other at other times, too, by calling, meeting occasionally in groups, and leaving scent marks.
» Though female pandas give birth to two offspring, only one of them survives. Panda cubs remain with their mother from 1½ to 3 years.
Other Riveting Facts
» A strange fact about pandas is that they smell through ears and hear through nose.
» Due to the high content of iron in their liver, pandas have this slight magnetic force; and because of this, they head towards north when blind-folded.
» They rely on a recorded memory that is spatial memory and not on the visual memory.
» Pandas are considered to be the most affable bears. They have often helped troubled people in jungle.
» The pandas are always found in groups.
» The logo of World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature features a giant panda on it.
It is sad to know that such an amazing creation of God is on the verge of extinction. Man is the main enemy of the giant panda, with them still being hunted for their pelts. Yet, ironically, they are regarded as a symbol of peace in their homeland, China.