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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Panda bear

The scientific name of the giant panda is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, which means "black and white cat-footed animal'.

By J. Patrick Fischer - Wikipedia Commons

In 1985 it was finally established that the giant panda is a member of the bear family. The lesser panda, however, is more of a raccoon.

HISTORY

Pandas were first given as presents by diplomats in the 7th century BC.

The West first learned of the giant panda on March 11, 1869, when the French missionary and zoologist Armand David received a skin from a hunter.

On November 9, 1936, Ruth Harkness became the first Westerner to bring back a live giant panda, a cub named Su Lin, which went to live at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

From 1958 to 1982, the People's Republic of China gifted 23 pandas to nine different countries. By 1984, however, China began to offer pandas to other nations only on ten-year loans

Ling Ling (September 5, 1985 – April 30, 2008), was a giant panda, who was given to Japan by the Chinese in 1992. He served as an important symbol of friendship between the two countries. Despite being a male panda, Ling Ling's name meant "darling little girl" in Chinese.

Ling Ling's exhibition plate at the Ueno Zoo By Kayo Scrocaro Hisatomi -

There are no known pre-20th-century Chinese artistic representations of giant pandas.

POPULATION

On March 8, 1985, every Chinese child was ordered to give one Feng, roughly two pence or three cents at the time, to save the giant panda from extinction.

At last count in 2015, there were about 1,864 individuals pandas alive in the wild, according to China’s fourth decadal survey.


Around 300 pandas live under human care at zoos or breeding centers globally, and roughly 50 of those bears are outside China.

Jia Jia, the oldest living panda in captivity, sadly passed away at the age of 38 in October 2016.

China retains ownership of all the giant pandas around the world, which are selectively loaned to other countries. The fee for a pair is usually $1 million a year, with funds going toward conservation efforts in China.

Since 2010 pandas born in captivity in China have been looked after by researchers in panda suits to prepare the animals for life in the wild.

MATING

Giant panda have a low birth rate because females become fertile only once, for 36 hours between mid April and May.

In the wild, after mating, male pandas leave the female and have no part in the cub's upbringing.

Scientists find it tricky to be certain if pandas are pregnant because unlike humans they do not develop a baby bump. Definite evidence that a panda is pregnant is available only 24 hours before a birth.

Panda pregnancies last between 95 and 160 Days, and fetuses develop only during the final weeks of gestation.

Pandas have been known to fake pregnancies in order to receive more food and special treatment from humans.

At birth, a baby Panda is smaller than a mouse.

A newborn panda weighs only about five ounces. Panda cubs are born tiny because their mother doesn't derive many nutrients from bamboo, leading to poor fetal development.

Panda Cub By Joshua Doubek - Wikipedia

Pandas often have twins, with each cub fathered by a different male.

ANATOMY

Pandas' black patches start to appear at one week old.

Cubs grow up to ten times their birth weight in the first 5 to 6 weeks.

A giant panda has five fingers on each paw, plus a protrusion often called a "sixth finger" that serves as a grasping thumb. The "thumb" is a modified sesamoid bone that holds bamboo while eating.


BEHAVIOR

Baby pandas have distinct vocalizations: "wah wah" means unhappy; "gee gee" means they're hungry; and "cuckoo" means all is well.

They feed on their mother's milk for the first year and start eating bamboo at around six months.

Pandas are biologically carnivorous and derive little nutrition from bamboo, which is why they must eat so much of it.

The giant panda spends around 55% of its life collecting, preparing and eating bamboo.


After 14 hours of eating bamboo, a panda has only digested 17% of it.

Due to their short digestive tract and massive daily diet of bamboo, Giant Pandas defecate up to 40 times a day.

The Giant Panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

FUN FACTS

The giant panda is closely related to bears; the red panda is closer to the raccoon.

Pandas have one of the highest bite forces of any carnivore.


A group of pandas is called an "embarrassment."

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail

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