Panda

Endangered

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Description

It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white with thick fur. Pandas have very strong mouth muscles and jaws to crush tough bamboo.

About the size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females reach 220 pounds. A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively (99 percent) bamboo. They also eat other grasses and occasional small rodents or musk deer fawns. There are about 1,600 pandas in the wild and over 300 living in zoos. Wild pandas live up to 20 years while captive pandas live up to 35 years.

Location

Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains. Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo.

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Behavior

    The giant panda is a terrestrial animal and primarily spends its life roaming and feeding in the bamboo forests. Giant pandas are generally solitary, and each adult has a defined territory, and a female is not tolerant of other females in her range.

Threats


    Poaching, fragmentation, decrease of bamboo food supply, low reproductive rate, destruction of the panda's natural habitat is now a major threat to the survival of the species.


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Protection

Creating new reserves and linking up existing panda populations are key to the species' future.