- A giant panda is much bigger than your teddy bear.
Giant panda looks cuddly and cute when you search photos on the internet. But it’s much bigger than you think.
An adult panda weight more than 45 kilos (100 pounds), and can be about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long!
- Giant pandas are good at climbing trees and can also swim.
Giant pandas can’t stand and do kung fu moves like Po in Kungfu Panda. But they are good tree climbers. They can climb trees from 7 months old.
Giant pandas are bears, and like other bears, they can swim.
- Pandas go from pink to white and black (or brown).
Pandas are born looking like baby badgers — fur-less, pink, and blind. The iconic black and white colour comes later, after about three weeks.
Not all giant pandas are black and white! A few are brown and white, but these are very rare.
- Pandas have so many fans because they look cute.
“The looks of a teddy bear” are what makes pandas so popular. Pandas appeal to our “cuteness receptors” because they have large, front-facing eyes, and are extremely furry, so we therefore think of them as cuddly and cute.
This was the subject of a recent BBC1 study by scientist Gordon Buchanan, and this is why almost all of us like pandas.
- Pandas are “lazy” — eating and sleeping make their day.
As about all a panda does all day is eat and sleep, you are best to get up early for a visit to a panda park, so you see them when they are active.
One reason for pandas being rare is that breeding is not high on their list of priorities. And with only a one-day window a year for a female to conceive naturally, it is hardly surprising that pandas are an endangered species.
- An adult can eat 12–38 kilos of bamboo per day!
panda eating bambooGiant pandas’ diets are 99% bamboo.
A 45-kilo adult (and pandas can reach 150 kg in captivity) spends as long as 14 hours eating. And it can eat 12 to 38 kilos of bamboo a day.
Pandas’ favorite food is bamboo shoots. If you do the Panda Keeper Tour, which I can personally recommend, you too can eat bamboo, although what you eat will be cooked for you first. (Read more about Panda Keeper Tour below.)
- A panda Can Poop 28 Kilos per day!
Pandas can poop as much as 28 kilos/day. In the past the undigested bamboo pieces in the poop were made into picture frames and bookmarks — no, apparently they did not smell!
Panda’s poop points in their direction of travel, so they can be easily tracked in the wild. Unfortunately, historically this led to them being more endangered, but now it aids researchers.
- Pandas have carnivorous teeth, but they eat bamboo and fruit.
Since giant predators like sabre-tooth tigers are no longer around, pandas didn’t need to be as fast, and turned into vegetarian specialists to avoid becoming extinct themselves.
We all know them as eating only bamboo, but they like some fruit too, and can eat meat. One panda park we visited had a photo of a panda devouring a vulture.
Although they still have sharp teeth and the digestive tract of carnivores, they don’t have the energy to chase anything, so their prey would virtually have to land in their lap, or be injured and too slow to escape.
- You can see panda babies in August.
pandaLovely panda cubs
Pandas are usually born in August, because the panda’s mating months are March to May and gestation is 3 to 5 months.
Females mainly produce two offspring, but only the stronger one survives in the wild. In the research bases in Chengdu, the other twin is hand-reared, and swapped regularly with the mother so she can raise two cubs each pregnancy. Some of the money you pay in entrance fees funds this successful project.
- Prehistoric pandas lived up to 2 million years ago.
Fossils of pandas have been dated between 1 and 2 million years old. Once pandas were widely distributed across the whole of China. Now they only live in the wild in remote areas of China’s Tibetan foothills.
- Pandas have 6 toes to grasp bamboo.
panda pawsPanda paws
Pandas have a 6th “digit” on the heels of their fore-paws. With their extra “thumbs” they can manoeuvre the bamboo into fat cigar shapes for efficient eating.