Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Fun Fact: A Panda Totem symbolizes abundance, enjoyment, compassion, and a carefree spirit.

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Ailuropoda

Species: melanoleuca


Body & Skeletal Structure:

panda-body-2panda-bodypanda-skeleton


Description:

Size:

Most pandas range from being 2-3ft (61-91cm) tall and 4-6ft (1.22-1.83m) long. As for weight, they can range from 220-330 pounds (100-150kg). Like most animals though, the males are usually larger than the females.

Fun Fact: A newborn panda is about the size of a stick of butter.

Fur:

Giant Pandas typically have black fur around around their eyes and on their ears, legs, shoulders, and around their muzzle somewhat , while he remaining parts of their body are coated in white fur. Their thick and wooly coat helps keep them warm when needed, especially when they live in their cool mountain homes.

Diet:

Giant Pandas are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants and animals (usually smaller). Its diet mainly consist of eating bamboo.  In fact, they eat bamboo for about 12 hours each day. This adds up to about 28 pounds (12.5kg) of bamboo per day. However, they do occasionally eat small rodents, fish, and even eggs.

Typical Lifespan:

This mammal typically live 14 to 20 years in the wild. In captivity, it is possible for a giant panda to live up to 35 years.


Reproduction:

Mating Season: March-May (Generally Spring)

Gestation Period: 95-160 days

Litter Size: 1-2 cubs

Fun Fact: Female Pandas are only able to become pregnant  for 2-3 days each mating season.


Communication and Behavior:

Pandas may be part of the bear family, but they definitely don’t roar the way most bears do. They actually “bleat,” similar to how a lamb or goat would “bleat.” This is a friendly sound. Pandas also honk, huff, bark, growl, and more. These pandas also use scent glands to communicate. They even do “handstands” so that the scent mark can reach farther up a tree.

Giant Pandas are relatively lonesome creatures. They spend most of the day simply eating and sleeping. They are often seen eating in a relaxed sitting posture, or simply sleeping up in a tree. These pandas can also be very territorial over their bamboo forest and also tend to avoid other pandas, so when two pandas happen to cross paths, the confrontation is very friendly to say the least. They’ll usually growl and sweat, lunge at each other, and perhaps even bite each other. There are exceptions when it comes to mating season, and when it’s between a mother and her cubs.


Habitat and Range:

Wild pandas live only in remote mountainous regions in central China. They usually live in old-growth conifer forests containing the high and small bamboo forests that are usually cool and wet, just as they like it.

panda-range

 


Conservation Status:

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The Giant Panda population is currently considered to be vulnerable of extinction. On a positive note though, this is better than before, when they were considered endangered. They are still at risk with their populations being so low though. One of the main reasons that the panda populations are as low as they are is due to habitat destruction. It’s also predicted that climate change will eliminate over 35% of the panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. However, the Chinese government has actively worked to restore and protect bamboo habitat, and it has shown positive results, hence the reason their conservation status is now “Vulnerable” rather than “Endangered.”


Resources:

Giant Panda – Wikipedia

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Giant Panda | WWF

Life Span of a Giant Panda | Animals

Giant Panda | National Geographic

Giant Panda | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants

Pandas: Facts & Information | Giant Panda Images – Live Science

Giant Panda Bear Facts |  Animal Fact Guide

Giant Panda | Species | WWF

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