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7 Panda Bear Facts For Kids

navajocodetalkersadmin on December 7, 2014 - 8:00 am in Fun Facts for Kids

Panda bears are some of the most beloved bears. The Giant Panda is one of the most recognized bears in the world. They grace the covers of many wildlife preservation pamphlets because they are simply adorable.

There are different types of Panda’s with the Giant Panda’s being the most familiar. When most people talk about Pandas they are talking about the large Giant Pandas with black and white fur. They are cuddly looking and easy to love BUT they are still bears and act like bears so cuddling is not typically an option.

1. Habitat

These bears are found in only a few mountain ranges in China. They live among the Bamboo that they eat. They used to be found in all the lowland areas of China as well but have been pushed further into the mountains because of human sprawl.

Pandas sleep among the trees in the forest. Their thick wooly coat keeps them protected from the elements of the mountains that they live in. Some scientists believe that their black and white coat is actually an adaptation that allows them to live camouflaged in the woods among the trees and the snow.

The climate in the bamboo forests in the mountains of China is very cold and snowy with an average of 30-40 inches of snow and/or rain each year. Their coat comes in handy in these cold forest environments and helps to keep them dry as well. They have an undercoat on their fur that keeps them warm and a water repelling over coat!

They usually sleep on the floor of the forest up against a tree. Unlike other bears they do not have dens. The Giant Panda has lived in the bamboo forests of China for several MILLION years. They have adapted to their environment very well.

The Giant Panda lives alone most of its life except as a juvenile when they stay with their mother and spends the greatest part of its day eating.

2. Size of the Giant Panda

The Giant Panda is about the same size as the American Black Bear in height. They are 2-3 feet high at the shoulder and about 6 feet long. They can weigh between 220-260 pounds with the males being larger than the females.

3. Behavior

They are cute but they are not cuddly. Giant Pandas have been known to attack humans. They are territorial animals that really appreciate their space. They do not establish dens but they do have their spatial territory marked.

Since they do not set up permanent dens they also do not hibernate as other bears do. Females will not share territory with other females. Males will some times cross paths with each other and as long as it is not mating season they will just ignore each other but during mating season they will get into a squabble for the right to the female. When they have attacked humans it is more out of annoyance than it is out of aggression.

4. Breeding

Giant Pandas typically reach breeding age between four and eight years old. Females can have babies up until the time they are 20. Females are only able to breed one time a year so breeding can often be a miss. A female can often become pregnant with two cubs but usually only one will survive. A cub can stay with its mother for 3 years.

All of this information means that a female panda can only produce 1 offspring at best every other year although it rarely happens that way. In most cases in the best case scenario a Giant Panda will have a maximum of 5 cubs through out her lifetime.

5. Panda Cubs

Panda cubs are born hairless, blind and very small. They are about 3-5 ounces at birth. They are actually the smallest mammals relation to the mother size other than marsupials. These tiny blind babies do not open their eyes for 6 to 8 weeks. They nurse for about 9 months than they are introduced to their lifelong diet of bamboo.

6. Diet

They have powerful jaws that can easily crush bamboo. Their diet is mainly bamboo mixed with some leaves from other trees. They can eat up to 40 pounds of Bamboo each day. They have the digestive system of a carnivore but they are herbivores so most of their food is expelled in waste which means tha they absolutely have to consume between 20-40 pounds of food each day to get the nutrition that they need to survive.

It can take a Panda anywhere from 10-16 hours to find enough food for the day. Looking for food is their full time job.

When the Panda eats they sit up right like humans. What appears to be a thumb on their hand is actually an elongated wrist bone that allows them to grasp the bamboo. The elongated wrist bone is an adaptation that allows them to eat more efficiently.

They look almost human like sitting up holding the bamboo with their “thumb” and hand eating. Bamboo has a high content of water but it is still not sufficient for the Pandas needs. They have to consume about 2 – 3 liters of fresh water which they get from rivers and streams in the mountains.

7. Why Are They Endangered

Panda’s are endangered because of loss of habitat, illegal hunting and other human effects. Due to lowland farming and human sprawl there has been a huge loss of habitat. This has pushed the Panda’s further into the mountains and out of their natural habitat. Of course at one point in time the illegal hunting of Pandas was a very wide spread problem among the Panda population.

Their natural mating areas have been destroyed by farmers and other humans so mating has been a challenge for them. Of course the farming of Bamboo has also depleted a lot of their food source all of these factors combined has left the Giant Panda with a population of only about 1600 in the wild.

There are approximately 300 Pandas world wide in captivity with most in breeding facilities and zoos in China. Pandas do not often successfully breed in captivity. Often when they do have young while in captivity the baby is taken from them because they usually abandon a baby born in captivity and it is crucial that the babies survive.

Building up the population depends on several different steps being taken. Their habitat has to be preserved and their food supply has to be available to them. It seems like very simple things to do but the reality is a little different.

China is the most populated country in the world. It takes a lot of food to feed the number of people that live in China which requires that quite a bit of farm land is used to grow the food that the people need. Unfortunately sustaining the human population has for years trumped the conservation of the Panda.

It is a balancing act to figure out how to sustain both human and the Giant Panda residents of China but with raised awareness there has been a real effort to find solutions to this on going problem. Illegal hunting is still a problem but it too has become more controlled over the years.

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