The giant panda is a popular exotic animal, known to almost everyone, everywhere. These adorable bears are found in the wild only in a small portion of China. It is the only country in the world that is home to the panda’s natural habitat.
However, you might see pandas in a number of select zoos, living in an artificial habitat. Pandas are easily identifiable because of their unique black and white coloration.
Pandas are fascinating creatures, and there are lots of fun facts to learn about them. Want to know more? Let’s have a look at some interesting facts about the giant panda.
You’ve likely heard them referred to as both giant pandas and, simply, pandas or panda bears.
Some older encyclopedia used the name “panda” to refer to red pandas, which are a different species altogether. This, at one time, necessitated labeling the panda bears we’re talking about as “giant.”
Though now the red panda is called just that, a red panda. Most people nowadays assume the word panda refers to the black and white, “giant” Chinese pandas we know and love.
Despite having the digestive system of a carnivorous beast, a panda’s diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo. While technically they are omnivorous, they really rarely ever eat anything but bamboo.
Pandas were once found throughout southern and eastern China as well as northern Myanmar and northern Vietnam. However, they are now only found in China and nowhere else.
They can, of course, sometimes be found in zoos around the world. All of those in captivity, however, are on loan from China.
A panda can live up to 20 years of age and even more, depending on their health, diet, and other physical factors and influences.
Pandas are lazy animals. A panda spends an average of 50% to 60% of their day on gathering, eating and collecting bamboo. They are not interested in playing or wandering around.
Baby pandas are not black and white but pink in color. They are only 15 centimeters in size when born and are also born blind and toothless. After about a month, they’ll have the black and white fur that everyone recognizes. They gain their eyesight about two months after they are born.
Pandas do not establish permanent dens, and therefore they do not hibernate. They are unlike most other bears in this regard and are more like subtropical mammals. They will simply move somewhere with a warmer temperature.
Because of how much they eat, pandas have to potty about 40 times a day. That’s a lot of trips to the bathroom! Of course, for them, their bathroom is their open habitat.
In captivity, getting pandas to successfully breed has been actually incredibly difficult. Outside of their natural habitat, more than 60% of male panda are sexually inactive. They do not show any signs of sexual activity or desire at all.
Scientists have tried everything from showing them videos to traditional herbs. Panda breeding programs are improving, however.
Pandas have been around for millions of years. Some ancient giant pandas likely lived 7 million years ago. The bamboo-munching bears we know now have likely been around 2 to 3 million years.
That’s a tricky one, and a critical point to know. Even though it might not be a fun fact, their population is something to worry about. It’s hard to know exactly how many pandas still exist in the world.
The World Wildlife Federation estimates that there are likely only somewhere between 1500-2000 living in the wild. Pandas are an endangered species, and this is why organizations like the WWF are working extensively to protect them.