Top 10 Facts About Giant Pandas
1. The Logo for WWF since 1961
With its unique black and white coat, the giant panda captured the attention of the founders of World Wild Life (WWF). WWF specializes in the conservation of endangered animals. When they founded WWF in 1961, the founders fell in love with a giant panda named Chi-Chi that was living at the London Zoo. They decided that this lovable creature would be an excellent choice for their logo, as it would appeal to all people around the world. Sir Peter Scott drew the original logo, which would evolve over the years while always remaining a giant panda.
2. Recently Upgraded From Endangered to Vulnerable Status
One of the reasons, the giant panda was chosen as a logo was because of its endangered status. It has remained endangered through the years, with a constant decline in the number of giant pandas worldwide. Only recently has the population began to increase. In September of 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of the giant panda from endangered to vulnerable, which shows the success of many of the efforts done to preserve this sweet creature. The Chinese government was instrumental in this and established fifty reserves that protect this beautiful creature. They remain protected in about 60 percent of the land inside China's border.
3. They Eat 26 to 84 Pounds of Bamboo a Day
Giant pandas can weigh as much as 300 pounds, and their diet mainly subsists of bamboo. Bamboo is a tall, wood-like grass that grows primarily in the tropics in Asia. Since bamboo is such a low-calorie food, they need to eat a lot to maintain their massive girth, which means they must eat 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo in a day.
4. Pandas eat 12 out of 24 Hours in a Day
Since they need to eat such a large amount of bamboo to survive, they spend more than half of their life eating. They eat anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day to eat enough. Due to the large amount they consume, they defecate continuously throughout the day, with nearly fifty bowel movements! Aren't you glad you are not a panda!
5. They Play A Large Role in Bamboo Reproduction
With pandas on the rise and the massive consumption of bamboo they consume, it may seem that they may harm the forests as their species increase. It is the exact opposite. Bamboo stalks flourish because as pandas eat this grass, it causes the seeds to fall on the ground, which allows the grass to pollinate and multiply. For this reason, the more stable the panda population, the more stable the forests are.
6. Pandas Will Eat Birds and Rodents
Despite the appearance that they are vegetarians, they are omnivores, which also consumer birds and rodents. They are not good hunters and therefore eat more opportunistically. Bamboo remains more than 95 percent of the diet. Because they are an opportunistic meat lover, they are often a nuisance for campers as they will search for meat at campsites.
7. Pandas Are Excellent Tree Climbers and Swimmers
They often appear lazy, since they love to eat in the lounging position, leaning back with their feet in front of them. Despite their lazy appearance, they are very good at climbing trees, although they often appear a little clumsy. They may climb as high as 13,000 feet to reach the top of a bamboo forest. Even more surprising, they are excellent swimmers.
8. They Have a Thumb-Like Nub
Unlike most bears and other mammals, they can grasp as if they had a thumb. Their wrist bones protrude due to an elongated bone that allows them to grasp things better as if they had a thumb. This feature also allows them to hold their young more like a human would rather than like other bears.
9. Babies Are 1/900th the Size of Their Mother
When a baby is born, they are not much bigger than a stick of butter and weigh only 5 ounces, which means they are only 1/900th the size of their mothers. Although they frequently have twins, a giant panda mother is not capable of taking care of more than one baby at a time, and therefore one often will die. A newborn is born blind and relies on its mother for positioning on the breast, which makes its thumb-like structure essential.
10. Cannot Crawl Until They Are 3 Months Old
Unlike many mammals, the young are unable to crawl until they are three months old. They do not even open their eyes until about 45 days old. Because it is so helpless, it needs to be in a protected area like a den until it is 120 days old. They begin to eat solid foods, specifically bamboo, at 14 months old. They wean at about 18-24 months old and will leave to live a solitary life soon after. Giant pandas will live 20 years in the wild, although one that lives in captivity may live up to 30 years old.
- “Giant Panda.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/giant-panda.
- “Giant Panda.” National Geographic, 24 Oct. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/giant-panda/.
- Lindburg, Donald G. “Giant Panda.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 May 2018, www.britannica.com/animal/giant-panda.
Questions & Answers
How long do pandas live?
In the wild, they usually live up to 20 years, although those in captivity can live as long as 35 years! The oldest recorded panda to ever live, live to 38 years old. Most pandas in the wild live between 15-20 years, while those in captivity average 25-35 years.Helpful 1
What do Giant Panda cubs eat?
They will drink their mother's milk. At about eight months old they begin to eat what their mother eats.
© 2018 Angela Michelle Schultz