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The giant panda is a species of bear with highly recognizable patterns on its fur. It’s mostly white, with black spots over its bulky body and its eyes. Most of these black marks are around its mouth, legs, and shoulders.
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The panda’s diet consists mostly of bamboo. It eats both the shoots and the leaves but also munches on tubers and grass. Occasionally, the panda will also indulge in meat, hunting down birds or rodents. They require large amounts of bamboo shoots every single day to survive. An adult panda can eat up to 30 lbs. This is due to the poor nutritional value of this plant. A higher quantity makes up for the low energy content the bamboo provides. Many pandas which live in captivity have several other ingredients added to their diets. These might include eggs, yams, and several fruits, such as bananas or oranges. A fully grown panda can measure anywhere from 4 to 6 feet long, and it’s rather heavy, weighing between 150 and 350 lbs. Usually, the females are smaller than the males. A panda’s fur is thick, making the already rounded body look even bulkier. This allows the panda to survive the low temperatures of the forests it inhabits. The panda has five fingers as well as a thumb. This last digit is an evolutionary enhancement that allows it to grab the bamboo rods while it eats. In the wilderness, pandas tend to live 20 years, while they can live up to 10 years further in captivity. The panda is a solitary animal, and females are particularly territorial. The two genders only meet during the mating season. A panda’s pregnancy lasts between 95 and 160 days. Most of the time, twins are born, but the female cannot produce enough milk for both. This is due to the panda’s diet, which renders it unable to store fat. The mother raises the cub alone, without the help of the male.
The giant panda’s primary habitat is the Chinese province of Sichuan. It also roams the woods of Shaanxi and Gansu. They’re so popular in China that over 20 different word variations can be found in the Chinese language. Due to its specific dietary and environmental requirements, this animal cannot survive in other locations, except in captivity. This makes the great panda especially vulnerable to deforestation. As of 2016, it’s believed that only 1,864 pandas still live in the wilderness. It’s considered a vulnerable animal by the IUCN. Up until 2016, it was classified as endangered. Zoos around the world that host pandas are expected to pay a yearly tribute to China. The main danger to pandas is human activity and farming, which destroys their natural habitat. There are few other animals that pose a threat to it. The cubs might become prey to snow leopards, eagles, and black bears. Pandas are notoriously passive, spending most of the day resting. They have short periods of activity, usually at dawn and at dusk. This behavior changes radically in captivity. They tend to have peaks of energy at different times of the day. This happens mainly during the morning, then the afternoon and finally at midnight. Since they don’t hibernate, they must travel during winter seasons. They search for areas of the mountains with a warmer climate. This happens because they don’t settle in permanent resting places and search for temporary shelters, instead. The panda is not a particularly aggressive animal.
The bamboo stem is incredibly tough. This means the panda needs a strong bite to feed off it on a daily basis. The panda has both sturdy jaw muscles and wide molar teeth. It’s considered to have one of the most powerful bite forces in the animal kingdom. Pandas would rather flee than attack as they’re typically nonaggressive animals. It’s best not to come too close to a panda, whether in captivity or in the wild. In the wilderness, the female is hostile against other members of the species. This behavior doesn’t change in captivity. The cub tends to abandon its mother after about 18 months.