Here in China lives one of the world’s rarest mammals, the giant panda! The giant panda is native to China, and in China, pandas are considered national treasures.
Only around 1,500 of these black-and-white creatures still survive in the wild!
For a long time, scientists weren’t sure if giant pandas were bears or related to raccoons. Giant pandas are actually members of the bear family as they are similar to other bears in their general looks and the way they walk and climb.
Pandas eat almost nothing but bamboo shoots and leaves. Occasionally they eat other vegetation but bamboo accounts for 99 percent of their diets. Pandas eat a lot and they eat fast and they spend about 12 hours a day doing it!
Panda babies called cubs are born hairless and helpless with their eyes closed.
Giant pandas are only tiny at birth. The panda mother gives great care to her tiny cub. For a few days after birth, the mother does not leave the den, not even to eat or drink!
Pandas in the wild are shy; they don’t venture into areas where people live. This confines pandas to very limited areas. They seem pretty quiet, but giant pandas can roar, growl and honk!
Use these fun facts to make up a quiz. See what your friends know about the giant panda!
• Pandas have lived on Earth for two to three million years.
• A panda’s diet consists of 99 percent bamboo.
• When giving birth, a mother panda is 900 times larger than her cub.
• A panda can spend more than 12 hours a day eating bamboo.
• A panda’s hair is thick and wiry and can grow up to four inches.
• Panda’s paws have something like a thumb which they use to hold bamboo stalks.
• Giant pandas have a great sense of smell- at night they can find the best bamboo stalks by scent.
• Pandas eat sitting down.
• Pandas are an endangered species. It is estimated that there may be around 1,500 left living in the wild.
• Giant pandas have a lifespan of around 20 years in the wild.
• Giant pandas are good climbers.
• The animated movie from 2008 named Kung Fu Panda features a giant panda called Po.
• Pandas have been gifted to other countries from China as a gesture of good will.
You can see pandas at amusement parks around China but the best place to see them is at the Panda Sanctuary in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s highly endangered Giant Pandas, and is probably one of the most important sites for captive breeding of giant pandas.
You can walk around the sanctuary and are guaranteed to get plenty of sightings of the panda! You can even learn about the sanctuary’s breeding program. Also for quite an expensive fee you can even hold a panda and help with the special feeding time, or you can be a panda keeper or volunteer at the breeding center and sanctuary- but you have to be early on the day, they only have limited numbers!