8 amazing facts about Giant Pandas
Giant Pandas are native to China and are one of the most recognisable animals in the world due to their distinctive black and white colourings, both around the body and the face. As the symbol of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Giant Pandas are considered threatened in the wild, but their conservation status has recently been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable thanks to a global effort to encourage Giant Panda conservation. We reveal some amazing facts about the Giant Panda you might not have known!
1. They have a cute Chinese name
Giant Pandas are native to south China, and as such have a Chinese name. In Mandarin, Giant Pandas are known as 大熊猫 ( Da Xiong Mao), which literally translates as ‘Big Bear Cat’. How adorable is that?
2. They are vegetarian omnivores (almost!)
While the teeth and digestive system of Giant Pandas show that they are biologically designed to be omnivores, over 99% of their diet is just bamboo. Bamboo has very little nutrition, however, so Giant Pandas need to spend over half their day eating bamboo stalks and leaves to get the nutrition required in their diet. During these 12-14 hours of eating, they will typically eat up to 12 kilograms of bamboo. Occasionally, Giant Pandas will eat small animals and fish, but this is extremely rare and only occurs when they cannot get enough bamboo.
3. Their scientific name is cool too
Along with having a cute literal translation of their Chinese name, the Latin scientific name of Giant Pandas also help make them the coolest animal ever. Known as Ailuropoda Melanoleuca, this literally means ‘black and white cat-foot’, which is an excellent way to describe them.
4. They are a perfect size to hug
Giant Pandas typically grow to a size between 1.2 m and 1.5 m, making them the ideal size for humans to hug (assuming the Giant Panda would let them!). However, they also weigh between 75 kg and 135 kg, meaning that you wouldn’t want one to fall on you! While scientists are unsure as to their average lifespan in the wild, the average life of a Giant Panda in captivity is 30 years.
5. Baby Pandas are Pink
Unlike their parents, baby pandas are born hairless, bright pink, and only about 15 cm, which is approximately the size of a pencil. It’s amazing to think that these small creatures can grow into the cute, adorable, full-sized animals that everyone loves. Baby pandas are born blind and will only open their eyes between six and eight weeks after birth.
6. They are more sociable than initially thought
While scientists and biologists traditionally thought that Giant Pandas were solitary creatures, only coming together briefly during the mating season. However, recent evidence has shown that Giant Pandas will occasionally meet, communicating with each other through vocal calls and scent markers.
7. Pandas don’t hibernate
Unlike the vast majority of other bears, Giant Pandas do not hibernate during the winter months. Instead, when winter hits their homes, they retreat further down the mountain to a relatively warmer area where bamboo will still thrive.
8. Mother–cub relationships
Unlike many other mammals, Giant Pandas will only give birth to one or two cubs at a time, which is one of the reasons that they are considered to be in need of conservation. After giving birth, a female panda will look after her cubs for approximately 18 months before the young are capable of surviving by themselves in the wild. Adult females give birth every two years, assuming they can find a suitable mate, but the mating process is difficult for pandas, often not resulting in the conception of a cub at all.