The giant panda is a very unique looking bear that everyone recognizes. Who can resist that cute, cuddly looking animal with its big black eyes? But remember, the Giant Panda is still a bear, which means that they can be dangerous or aggressive when they need to be. Pandas are very fast on foot and kind of lumber, or trot, along. They are really good climbers and can swim to escape danger. Pandas are very shy and because of their markings they are difficult to see in the forest.
There is only one sub-species of panda, and it is found only in China. The black and white bear is considered endangered. There are only about 1000 giant pandas left in the wild. Its habitat is continually shrinking because of the growing Chinese population spreading into the forested areas and cutting down trees (especially bamboo trees) for more farmland. With it’s habitat getting smaller and farms cropping up all over it has a very difficult time migrating, or traveling, to another area of bamboo forest. The giant panda is also hunted for it’s beautiful fur.
Pandas main food source is bamboo. This stumps scientists since bamboo is not high in nutrients and is not easily digested by the bear. That means that the panda has to eat an awful lot of it to get the nutrition it needs to live. Pandas will eat 50 – 60 pounds of bamboo a day, so obviously they spend most of their day eating! They will eat meat, berries, flowers, grass and nuts if necessary. The pandas front paws have adapted to its love of bamboo, too. Along with its five 'fingers', the panda has grown a ‘thumb’. Part of the wrist bone has developed into a thumb that faces opposite to the rest of the fingers. This allows the panda to hold onto bamboo more tightly.
Female pandas will give birth to 1 or 2 babies but will only look after one of them. She will be a very attentive mother to that one cub but the other will die. After about a year the young panda will be ready to live on its own.
Kaitlyn and her friend did a school project about pandas. They talked about the pandas appearance, how pandas came to be endangered, the behavior of pandas, where pandas live and what their habitat is like and last but not least interesting facts about pandas. Click here to see the project.