- Genus/species: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
- Conservation status: Endangered
- Location: Central China
Cute But Rare
Giant pandas live in the broadleaf and coniferous forests of the mountains in China that have a dense undergrowth of bamboo. They are good climbers and their thick, wooly coat keeps them warm in the cool forests where they live. They look really cute with their black and white markings and cuddly appearance!
Giant pandas are not giants. They are shorter than you when they are on all four legs… between two and three feet tall. However, if they stand up on two legs, they can be as tall as your Dad- around six feet. Males are larger than females, and can weigh up to 250 pounds –or as much as you and three of your friends put together. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. In fact, in the wild, a giant panda’s diet is 99% bamboo. However, it must eat great amounts of bamboo every day in order to get enough nutrition to survive.
Giant pandas are rare today because the forests that are their home are being developed by man, with roads and railroads criss-crossing them. Today, the giant panda has been adopted by the WWF or World Wild Life Fund as its symbol. WWF has been active in giant panda conservation since 1980.
Did You Know?
- A giant panda needs to consume a comparatively large amount of food—from 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day—to get all its nutrients. To obtain this much food means that a panda must spend 10 to 16 hours a day foraging and eating. The rest of its time is spent mostly sleeping and resting.
- A giant panda cub weighs only around 5 ounces at birth, but an adult can weigh 250 pounds!
- Though giant pandas are bears they do not hibernate like other bears. This is because their main food supply is available all year around.
- Giant pandas have special front paws. Both paws have five fingers plus a thumb.