Basic Panda Facts and Giant Panda Bear Informations  Introduction to Pandas


 Basic facts and informaiton about giant panda bears. 


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Giant pandas are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized--but rarest--animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts.

Scientific classification

(Genus and Species, Family, Order): Ailuropoda melanoleuca, Ursidae, Carnivora

Geographic distribution

Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains. 

Habitat

Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. Torrential rains or dense mist throughout the year characterizes these forests, often shrouded in heavy clouds.

Physical description

A giant panda is bear-like in shape. It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white (but the brown fur pandas found in Qinling mountain ranges), some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage into their shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. Many people find these chunky, lumbering animals to be cute, but giant pandas can be as dangerous as any other bear.

Size

About the size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.

Status

The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. It is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. There are about 1590 left in the wild (2003, by the 3rd census). About 170 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China.

Age Phases of pandas

Cub panda: under one years old;
Sub-adults: female aged 3-4.5 years; males 1-6 or 1-7 years.
Adults: pandas aged more 4.5 for female, more 6 or 7 for males. 

Life Span

Scientists aren't sure how long giant pandas live in the wild, but they are sure it's shorter than life spans in zoos. Chinese scientists have reported zoo pandas as old as 35. 

Diet

A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively (99%) bamboo. The balance consists of other grasses and occasional small rodents or musk deer fawns. In zoos, giant pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, rice gruel, a special high-fiber biscuit, carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes. 

Social Structure

Adult giant pandas are generally solitary, but they do communicate periodically through scent marks, calls, and occasional meetings. Offspring stay with their mothers from one and a half to three years. 

Difference of pandas between Qinling and Wolong
Some pandas in brown in Qinling Mountain area.

Da xiong mao
The Chinese name for the giant panda means "great bear cat". Chinese books, written over 3,000 years ago, talk of the giant panda. Even then, it was believed to be endowed with mystical powers capable of warding off natural disasters and evil spirits. The scientific name for giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, simply means black and white bear.

Pandas Census
Till now census (panda population surveys) organized 3 times by China State Forestry Administration (CSFA),  the previous was held in 1970s and 1980s, the 3rd finished in 2003. Surveys be finished by researchers combined 7-8 kinds of surveying methods, such as route investigation, bamboo biting, droppings, excrement analysis and satellite positioning,
According to 2003's the 3rd census, there are 1590 giant pandas (above 1.5 years adults) living in the wild, and 168 giant pandas in captivity (75 are male and 93 are female), and the captive pandas are distributed across 35 different facilities worldwide.
The 3rd Census start from Jun 1999 to Dec 2003, survey covers 45 counties, 194 townships, covers an habitat of 2300000, pandas mainly distributes in 6 mountains ranges of Qinling, Minshan, Qionglaishan, Daxiangling, Xiaoxiangling, Liangshan. Pandas mainly distributes in Sichuan, then Shaanxi and Gansu.

Pandas Reserves (Protection Area)
Till the end of 2004, 55 reserves set up in China, 17 corridors set up, protect 53% of pandas habitat and 70% wild pandas population.

Pandas Population Pressures
Human economic activity, ecosystem deterioration, natural enemies, low reproductive rate, inbreeding, limits on bamboo supply and life cycle, loss of genetic diversity, diseases etc

Pandas raising in other countries
At the end of 2005, only 24 pandas live abroad.
But only 7 are foreign citizenship who are the offspring of pandas sent abroad before 1982:  2 in Japan, 3 in Mexico, 2 in Germany.
The other 17 pandas with China Citizenship, some of their birthplace locates where they live in foreign country, now the 17 pandas live abroad as: 9 in USA, 4 in Japan, 2 in Austria, 2 in Thailand.

So to the end of 2005, 24 pandas raised as: America 9;   Austria 2;     Germany 2;   Japan 6;   Mexico 3;  Thailand 2.   

 

 

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