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Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): A bear native to south-central China

It is considered a national treasure of China and protected by law in its home bamboo forest

AKA: panda bear or panda

Scientists have long debated whether pandas are a type of bear, raccoon, or all of them

By studying DNA, scientists have confirmed that pandas are related to bears

Giant pandas are similar to other bears in general appearance, the way they walk and climb, their distinctive skulls, social system and reproductive biology, according to the San Diego Zoo

A newborn panda is about the size of a stick of butter, about 3 to 5 ounces, which is about 1/900 the size of its mother

Female pandas can grow to about 200 pounds, while males can grow to about 300 pounds as adults

Pandas are known for their round bodies and large black eyes

They are known by black and white paint

Each panda’s features are unique and slightly different from another panda

Scientists are not sure of the reasoning behind the paint, but suspect it may be used as camouflage or to find a mate

Not all pandas are black and white, there is also a rare brown and white variation of the giant panda

A panda’s diet is almost entirely fermented

They eat the leaves, stems and shoots of various species of bamboo

They eat bamboo at least 12 hours a day

Pandas occasionally rise, with about 1% of their diet comprising other plants – and even meat

If they arise, they have been known to eat herbs, bulbs, fruit, other insects, even rodents and carrion

Pandas live in temperate forests, mainly in the mountains of southern China

China’s Yangtze Basin region holds the panda’s primary habitat

Pandas spend most of the day eating and sleeping like other bears

Wild pandas are solitary creatures and are protective of their space

Their territorial behavior is due to their reliance on the large resources of bamboo for their survival

The only exception to this behavior is the very short mating time of mothers with cubs

Pandas have a slow reproductive rate

Mature females usually give birth once every two or three years, and a typical female panda will carry about five litters in her lifetime

The average female panda’s pregnancy is about 135 days, but the actual delivery of the fetus only takes about 50 days

The female will give birth to one or two cubs, which weigh only three to five ounces at birth

Females reach sexual maturity between four and five years of age, while males reach it around six to seven years of age

Pandas can live 14 to 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in managed care

Habitat loss and hunting are the biggest threats to pandas

Infrastructure development is increasingly dispersing and dispersing panda populations, preventing pandas from finding new bamboo forests and potential mates

While the Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, only 67% of wild pandas live in these reserves, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Hunting is another threat to pandas

While poaching has declined in recent years, largely due to the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act in 1988, pandas can be caught in trap traps

Low reproduction rates and a shortage of bamboo are among other threats to the panda population

Tigers are generally not found in the remaining panda habitats, and leopards are found in reduced numbers

There are about 1,864 in the wild, according to the WWF

Conservation Efforts:

In China, panda conservation efforts began in 1957

In 1989, the Chinese Ministry of Forestry and WWF published a management plan for the panda and its habitat

This is called for reducing human activities in the panda habitat, managing the bamboo habitat, expanding the panda reserve system and conserving the captive panda population

WWF continues to work with China’s National Conservation Program to conserve the giant panda

The panda reserve program now covers more than 38 million acres of forest

China has also set up 65 panda reserves that protect areas from further panda development

He continues to make his way to China as a panda and his home

The government has sanctioned policies such as the “Grain-to-Green” program that has helped the nation gain forest cover

But it is still uncertain if this land is suitable for the recently wild pandas

The San Diego Zoo is another organization that works to conserve pandas

In the 1990s, scientists doubted whether they could save pandas from extinction

There is not much research on their behavior in the wild, and they do not report well in zoos

San Diego Zoo Global partners with Chinese colleagues to create conservation war

They developed early pregnancy detection tests and milk formula for panda cubs, which raised survival rates from zero to 100 percent

By 2010, there were three hundred pandas in zoos around the world and breeding centers in China

Adopt a panda: Make a symbolic panda adoption to support WWF’s conservation efforts

Donate: Conservation groups like the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservation can use your help in their efforts

Source: WWF and San Diego Zoo

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