The Giant Panda Bear
|Giant Panda Bear|
Source: Sebastian Bergmann under CC
Approximately 75% of giant panda bears reside in the Sichuan province
|Giant Panda Bear|
Source: By pastorbuhro under CC
Giant Panda Bear FactsThe giant panda bear has a very distinctive and instantly recognizable coat. Black fur covers the front
and back legs, shoulders, ears and an area around each eye. The rest of the animal is white. It's not clear why the giant panda is marked this way. One theory suggests it is to aid camouflage in the shady environment in which it lives, whereas another proposes it is to help the panda stand out in its habitat in order to find mates. It has a similar body shape to that of other bear species but possesses an elongated radial sesamoid bone (a "thumb") that greatly aids its ability to pick up and eat bamboo. This is unique within the Ursidae (bear) family. Adults can weigh between 100 and 150kg with males typically around 10% larger and 20% heavier than females. They measure roughly 1.5 meters long (nose to rump) and have a 10-15cm tail, the second longest tail of any bear.
The giant panda bear's diet is primarily the stems, leaves and shoots of a variety of bamboo species. They don't have any particular preference and indeed may not have much choice; due to the altitude at which the giant panda is now forced to live, the number of bamboo species available to it are somewhat limited. Because bamboo has little nutritional value, pandas need to spend a significant amount of time eating - usually at least 12 hours a day. In this time they can consume as much as 38 kilograms. Interestingly, the giant panda bear's digestive system is similar to that of other carnivores, yet it lives quite happily on a primarily herbivorous diet. On rare occasions meat and fish may be consumed if available, though bamboo remains the preferred choice.
Source: By cliff1066™ under CC
It is hoped that in the years to come, giant panda numbers will continue to increase both in the wild and captivity. Organizations like the WWF continually work to increase the panda population, protect as much of their natural habitat as possible and raise global awareness of the situation. Anybody wishing to contribute towards this effort or help in other ways should visit the WWF's website for details.