Once we used to live in the lowlands of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu regions in China. Later we moved up to the snowy mountains because our favorite food was not available in the valleys. Do you know what our favorite food is? Take a guess!
Yes, it‛s bamboo! We pandas love to eat, and bamboo shoots and leaves are our favorites. We spend most of the day eating. Do you know how much bamboo we eat in a day? Between 20-40 pounds ( 9.07185 – 18.1437 kg). Giant pandas eat fish, eggs and meat too.
Our black and white coat protects us from enemies. Predators like snow leopards and black bears cannot find us if we hide in the snow or on dark tree branches. We are peaceful and don‛t get into fights. But we can get really angry, if irritated.
After we get our bellies full, we sleep. Yes, after eating, sleeping is our most favorite pastime. Pandas can sleep anywhere: Lie flat on the ground, cozy up next to a rock or a tree, and even on tree branches. But what if someone tries to attack us?
Apart from the scent, we communicate a lot with sounds. In fact, pandas have the largest variety of sounds than our other bear brothers. We make a variety of sounds like bleats, huffs, barks, growls and honks to communicate with other pandas.
Our cousins like the Asiatic black bear or the grizzly bear hibernate during winters. But we don‛t. Why? Because we get to eat bamboo all through the year. Here‛s a fun question. Why don‛t polar bears hibernate? Because it‛s always winter in the Arctic Circle!
For years scientists argued on whether we were bears or raccoons as we had similarities to both species. Finally, they got proof that we are actually bears. In fact, we are called ‘living fossils‛ because we are very similar to our earliest known ancestor species.
Here‛s another fun fact. We giant pandas have 20 different names in China. Some of the names like Mo, Huāxióng and Zhúxióng originated during ancient times. In modern China, we are commonly called Dàxióngmāo or Xióngmāo. In Taiwan, we are called Dàmāoxióng.
My ancestors were respected as noble animals in ancient China. In some legends, giant pandas are described as great warriors. Westerners came to know about us only in the end of the 19th century.
We love our privacy and we have a unique way of marking our territory. The end of our tails produces a scent. And we use the furry tail to mark our individual space. So, when one panda comes near another panda‛s territory, they will be able to know the age, whether it‛s male or female etc. Isn‛t that cool?
We might not be as active like other bears, but we love to have fun. Giant pandas love rolling on the snow like furry black and white balls. We can also do somersaults, if we feel like it. This helps us to keep warm during winters.
Giant panda moms give birth once every 2-3 years, in bamboo nests. Panda babies or cubs are very tiny and are pinkish in color. They are born blind and start seeing after two months. Cubs start eating bamboo in 7-8 months. Panda moms take care of their cubs for 18 months and after that they live on their own.
An adult giant panda can live up to 20 years in the wild. If we are in a zoo, we could live up to 30 years. The oldest ever living giant panda was a female named Jia Jia, who died at the age of 38 in 2016 in a Hong Kong zoo. Her mate An An was the oldest living male giant panda. He died at the age of 35 in 2022.
Did you know that we are like ‘goodwill ambassadors‛ for our country China? For the Chinese, we represent peace and friendship. That‛s why we are sent as loans to other countries as a symbol of friendship. These countries are supposed to return us to China after 10 years.
Giant pandas have a close relative in another part of China. They are known as Qinling pandas because they live on the Qinling Mountain. Unlike us, they have light and dark brown fur. The Qinling pandas are smaller than giant pandas. and are considered to be a rare and endangered species.
Giant pandas like me were endangered at one point of time due to deforestation and hunting. Though our population has increased in the past decade, we are not completely out of danger. Only support from friends like you can ensure the protection of Mo and family. I am glad that we are now good friends.
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