A giant panda is a black and white bear. That's right the giant panda really is a bear and is classified in the bear family Ursidae. It's easy to recognize by its black and white patches. The panda's eyes, ears, legs, and shoulders are all black, and the rest of its body is white.
Although fairly big, the giant panda isn't really all that giant. It can grow up to about three feet tall and six feet long when standing on all four legs. The female pandas are generally smaller than the males.
Where do giant pandas live?
Giant pandas live in the mountains in Central China. They like dense temperate forests with lots of bamboo. Right now scientists think that around 2000 pandas live in the wild in China. Most of the pandas that live in captivity, live in China. There are around (as of the writing of this article) 27 giant pandas that live in captivity outside China. Giant pandas are currently considered critically endangered animals, meaning they could go extinct if they are not protected.
Giant Panda Source: USFWS
What do giant pandas eat?
Giant pandas primarily eat bamboo, but they are carnivores meaning they do eat some meat. Besides bamboo, they will sometimes eat eggs, some small animals, and other plants. Since bamboo doesn't have a lot of nutrition, pandas have to eat a lot of bamboo to stay healthy. As a result, they end up spending most of the day eating. They have giant molars to help them crush the bamboo.
Is the giant panda dangerous?
Although the giant panda eats mostly bamboo and looks very cute and cuddly, it can be dangerous to humans.
How long do they live?
In zoos pandas have been reported to live as long as 35 years, but generally they live closer to 25 to 30 years. It is thought that they do not live as long in the wild.
Where can I see a giant panda?
In the United States there are currently four zoos that have giant pandas. These include the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA; the National Zoo in Washington DC; Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, GA; and the Memphis Zoo in Memphis, TN.
Other zoos with Pandas throughout the world include Zoo Aquarium in Spain, Zoologischer Garten Berlin, Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico, and Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
Fun Facts About Giant Pandas
The panda is depicted on some Chinese coins.
The Chinese word for the giant panda is daxiongmao. It means giant bear-cat.
There are over 3.8 million acres of wildlife reserves in China to protect the Panda's habitat.
Giant pandas do not hibernate like some bears.
Panda cubs don't open their eyes until they are six to eight weeks old and they weigh between three to five ounces. That's about the size of a candy bar!
Kung Fu Panda, a cartoon movie about a giant panda, broke box office records in China and Korea.