The panda bear is a native of China. It is commonly known as the giant panda; this name was given in an effort to differentiate the red panda. Though once thought to be more closely related, recent research shows giant pandas and red pandas are only distantly connected. Panda bears were originally difficult to classify as they share traits of both bears and raccoons. However, molecular studies have revealed them to be true bears. Pandas are very popular figures in current culture. This animal is currently on the endangered species list; estimates state that less than 300 pandas are alive in captivity today. There are around 1,600 pandas living in the wild in the mountainous regions of China.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Suborder - Caniformia
Family - Ursidae
Genus - Ailuropoda
Species - A. melanoleuca
Common Names - Panda, Panda Bear, Giant Panda
The panda is a very large bear and is easily recognized thanks to its distinctive coloring. The panda bear is black and white, and stands between 4 and 6 feet tall when fully grown. A female panda can weigh up to 280 pounds while the male can weigh up to 350 pounds.
The panda reaches sexual maturity between 4 and 8 years of age, and can reproduce until around the age of 20. A female panda typically gives birth once every two years. Mating season occurs between March and May. The gestational period for the giant panda is between 95 and 160 days.
Panda bears subsist mainly on bamboo; researchers believe bamboo makes up 99% of this bear's diet. The other 1 percent comes from other plants and leaves. The panda is a very intelligent animal and was once regarded as a noble and royal creature in China. This bear has been driven from the lowlands of China due to farming and manufacturing; it now makes its home in the mountainous areas of the country. It spends its life roaming, and female pandas are not receptive to sharing their territory with other females of the species.
The panda bear hails from the south-central region of China. It was first documented by researchers in 1869. There are two subspecies of panda: the black and white panda most are familiar with (A. m. melanoleuca) and the Qinling panda (A. m. qinlingensis), which is brown and white instead of black and white
The giant panda is on the endangered species list; less than 2,000 of these animals exist in the world. Many efforts are being made to preserve the panda, both in its native land of China and across the globe.