A panda’s fur is sold on the black market for up to $200,000. This endangered mammal has no natural enemies, but—because of poaching and deforestation—we are starting to lose these remarkable creatures.
The giant panda is a 275-pound, black and white coated bear. This mammal can live up to 30 years and is typically found in the Xifan Mountains of the Sichuan province of China. The Chinese name for pandas is Xiongmao, which means “giant cat bear.” This is because pandas have vertically slit pupils like cats. Pandas also have an oily coat, which protects them from the cold and wet environment.
The giant panda’s habitat ranges from damp subtropics to alpine meadows near snowy peaks. In these habitats, pandas primarily eat bamboo, a tree-like grass which grows in large amounts. Unlike cattle and deer, pandas are unable to digest cellulose. Instead, pandas continue to eat and have to defecate every now and then to make more room. Eating takes up most of the panda’s time. Naps are limited to four hours, because after that time frame the panda is ready for more food. Pandas will regularly eat for eight hours. Their diet will change with the change of seasons.
Each year, pandas mate through the months of April and May. A female panda will give off a fragrance along known panda paths. After that, she will call from a high tree. When pregnant, a female panda will look for a den or a bamboo thicket. When her cub is born, it is blind and has no fur. Even though it is only one nine-hundredth of the mother’s weight, the cub will grow quickly. The cub stays with its mother for six months, through the next breeding season. The cub will leave the mother the following spring and find its own home.
Because the nutrients pandas get from bamboo are poor, they do not waste any precious energy patrolling their territory. Pandas rarely confront each other. Their territories typically range about half a square mile with paths that connect dens to the feeding grounds. When two male pandas come into contact, the situation is usually settled peacefully.
The panda population has decreased drastically over the last couple of decades. However, the panda is considered a national treasure by the Chinese government. Since 1949, pandas have been a symbol for the World Wide Fund of Nature. People worldwide hope to see this cute, peaceful species thrive and increase in population soon.
[Source: Wild Explorer]