1. Giant pandas or simply the “pandas” are black and white bears. In the wild, they are found in thick bamboo forests, high up in the mountains of central China.
2. These magnificent mammals are omnivores. It is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. But whilst pandas will occasionally eat small animals and fish, bamboo counts for 99 percent of their diet. The panda spends as much as 16 out of every 24 hours eating, and the elimination of wastes occurs up to 50 times per day.
3. Large males may attain 1.8 meters (6 feet) in length and weigh more than 100 kg (220 pounds); females are usually smaller. Pandas are BIG eaters – every day they fill their tummies for up to 12 hours, shifting up to 12 kilograms of bamboo!
4. An unusual anatomic characteristic is an enlarged wrist bone that functions somewhat like a thumb, enabling pandas to handle food with considerable dexterity.
5. The male panda can have intercourse with a female over 40 times in a single afternoon because of the female’s short fertility window. Panda mating is a rough-and-tumble affair with plenty of biting and barking.
6. Baby pandas are born pink and measure about 15cm. They are also born blind and only open their eyes six to eight weeks after birth. Giant pandas produce the smallest offspring of any placental mammal (about 1/800 of the mother’s weight).
7. Giant pandas were once hunted by the Chinese, who believed their pelts provided magical protection against evil spirits, but hunting now carries strict penalties in China.
8. Sometimes, to mark their scent, panda’s climb a tree backward with their hindfeet until they’re in a full handstand upside down – enabling them to leave their scent higher up.
9. Unlike other bears, giant pandas do not hibernate during the winter months. When winter approaches, they head lower down their mountain homes to warmer temperatures, where they continue to eat bamboo.
10. Sadly, these beautiful bears are endangered, and it’s estimated that only around 1,000 remain in the wild. As of 2020, there are approximately 600 giant pandas in captivity. That’s why we need to do all we can to protect them! Giant pandas are on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Animals.