Giant Panda

Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

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Giant Panda

Reclusive herbivores, giant pandas once enjoyed a wide range in southern China. However, habitat destruction and poaching for their valuable fur have killed off most of them, leaving only about one thousand in the wild.

The ancestors of the giant panda were carnivores, but its diet has evolved into one of mostly stalks and roots of the slow-growing, nutrient-poor bamboo.

It spends ten to sixteen hours a day eating the twenty to forty pounds (9 to 18 kg) of bamboo it needs for its daily quota.

It forages over a large area to get enough; a typical home range is about 1.5 to 2.5 square miles (4 to 6.5 sq km).

The solitary panda comes together with others only to mate.

Animal Facts

Name: Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Family: Ailuropodidae (Pandas)

Range: Southern central China

Habitat: Mountains at elevations of 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1,525 to 3,050 m) in bamboo (deciduous) and coniferous forests

Diet: Bamboo

Head and Body Length: 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m)

Shoulder Height: 24 to 32 inches (60 to 80 cm)

Tail Length: 4.5 to 5.5 inches (11.5 to 14 cm)

Weight: 165 to 350 pounds (75 to 160 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating March to July, implantation delayed 45 to 120 days; gestation 97 to 163 days, one or two cubs born

Description: Black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs and shoulders; white fur everywhere else; thick, woolly coat; broad, round face; flat nose; round, protruding ears; round body; short, sturdy limbs

Conservation Status: Endangered

Major Threat: Habitat loss and poaching

What Can I Do?: Visit WWF and The Hong Kong Society for Panda Conservation for information on how you can help.