The Giant Panda

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The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda Melanoleuca) lives in the bamboo forests

of southwestern China. This type of panda is endangered and to this day

"there are only around a thousand pandas left" (http//:panda.org, 1).

"Adult giant pandas have a length of 160 to 180

centimeters (5/14 to 6 feet). The weight of an adult

male giant panda is normally between 80 and 125

kilograms (176 and 276 pounds) with males

typically weighing about 10% to 20% more than

females--about the same size as the American black

bear. However, unlike the black bear, giant pandas

do not hibernate and cannot walk on their hind

legs" (Etling 1).

"Giant pandas have a massive head, heavy body, short tail

(approximately 5 inches) rounded ears and plantigrade feet" (Etling 1). Giant

pandas have the tendency to "develop large molars which are specifically

designed to crush fibrous plant material" (Etling 1).

The giant pandas fur "is thick and coarse; it consists of a coarse outer

layer and a very dense, wooly-like underfur" (Etling 1). The fur of the panda

is oily and "protects pandas from the cool and damp climate in which [they

live in]" (Etling 1). Their fur color is mainly white with patches of black on

its legs, ears, back, and its eyes.

This picture shows the black color pattern on pandas' fur.

The life span of an average panda bear is 15 years of age. Some

pandas even live into their twenties and those kept captive may even reach

the age of thirty. "Dudu, the oldest known captive giant panda recently died

in China at the ripe old age of thirty-seven" (Etling 4).

Pandas bodies are large and it is difficult for them to get away from

enemies or even just to get around.

"Giant pandas generally move in a slow,

determined manner. When startled, they will move

at a slow trot to escape danger. Giant pandas, with

their sharp claws, are capable of climbing trees

very easily" (Etling 1). They climb the trees in

order to get away from anything that they feel is a

threat to them.

"Although giant pandas rarely fight they will let other's know of their

disapproval by grunting and with body language" (Etling 4).

"Giant pandas signify aggression by lowering their

heads and staring at their opponents. To show

submissiveness, a giant panda will put its head

between its front legs, often hiding its eye-patches

with its paws. At close range, aggression is

signaled by a swipe with a paw, or by a

low-pitched growl or bark" (Etling 4).

"Giant pandas are by nature solitary animals, most of the time avoiding

direct contact with others of their own kind" (Etling 3). "In the spring,

between March and May, the females must seek each other out in order to

mate" (Etling 3). "Pandas are known to begin mating at six years of age"

(Jonkel 1).

"In the months of August or September, one or two

cubs are born in a sheltered den made of twigs and

leaves. The mother will hold the cub to its chest

with both paws until the youngster squirms away.

This is to ensure that the cub is alive and well. The

young cub will become the mother's constant

companion for the next 18 months until the cub is

able to live on its own" (Etling 3).

When panda cubs are born they usually "weigh 3 to 5 ounces or about

4-5 grams each (1/900th of the mothers weight)" (Etling 1). When the baby

pandas are born, they are blind and hairless. After a short 10 days, the cubs

eventually grow hair and gain sight.

The pandas eating diet is very basic. There are 25 different types of

bamboo that pandas eat. When the panda eats bamboo, the panda usually sits

in an upright position holding the bamboo out in front of it.

This picture demonstrates how the giant panda eats bamboo.

"The differing varieties of bamboo go through

periodic die-offs as part of their renewal cycle. The

bamboo, at the end of...
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