12 Awesome Things You Need To Know About Pandas
They're no longer endangered. YAY!
This week, it was announced that the Giant Panda is no longer listed as an endangered species, which is pretty awesome news.
So we wanted to share some other awesome things you should know about pandas:
Why are they black and white?
Everyone knows the panda bear for its distinctive markings. But why are they black and white?
According to Chinese folklore, a young shepherdess was killed trying to protect a panda from a leopard attack. The pandas (which used to be all white) wore black armbands to the funeral and, as they cried, the ink from the armbands ran - turning their eyes black as they rubbed their eyes and their bodies black as they hugged each other.
Since that day, they have been marked black and white in memory of the girls who died to protect them.
Pandas are named after... cats?
The panda’s scientific name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, which means ‘black and white cat-foot’ in Chinese.
They LOVE to munch bamboo
Pandas depend almost entirely on bamboo - 99% of their diet is made up of shoots, stems and leaves of the plant and they need to eat between 12 and 38kg of bamboo each day. They can spend around 14 hours each day just eating.
So no bamboo, no pandas
That’s the main reason behind their recovery - without bamboo, pandas struggle to survive and lots of their habitat have been lost to logging. So, the Chinese government has been making sure its forests are filled with more bamboo which has increased the number of pandas.
In turn, pandas play a vital role in spreading seeds to keep the forest growing and thriving.
They’re champion nappers
When they’re not eating, pandas spend most of their time sleeping and resting.
But, even though they love their sleep, unlike other species of bear pandas don’t hibernate during the winter.
They can live a long time
Adult pandas usually live for up to 20 years in the wild - but can reach around 30 in captivity.
The rumours about pandas reproducing aren’t true
Pandas are usually solitary but they do come together to mate. Many people think that pandas are poor breeders but this is only the case in captivity. In the wild, pandas don’t seem to have problems reproducing.
They have TINY babies
A newborn panda cub can weigh as little as 90g - that’s just 1/900th the size of its mother. This makes baby panda cubs (which are born pink and blind) one of the smallest newborn mammals compared to the size of its mother.
Pandas tend to have a baby every two years and a cub will tend to leave its mother when she gets pregnant again, at around 18 months old.
They’re excellent climbers
An adult panda can weigh up to 150kg. Even though they’re large, bulky animals, pandas are great at climbing trees...and they love to play.
The WWF logo was a real panda
The image of a giant panda is the iconic logo of the WWF and has been since the conservation charity was founded in 1961. The panda in the logo is ‘Chi-Chi’; a giant panda living in London Zoo at the time.
They still need our help
Although they’re no longer officially ‘endangered’, pandas are still listed as a vulnerable species and are one of the rarest species of bear on the planet. There are only 1,864 pandas living in the wild, according to a survey carried out between 2011 to 2014 and they’re still under threat.
And so do other animals
While this recent news is positive for pandas, much more needs to be done to protect them. Plus, there are lots of other species under increasing threat of extinction, including: black rhino, mountain gorilla, pangolin, Sumatran orangutan, Amur leopard and hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
The WWF is working hard to protect all these animals too and needs your support.
Written by Melissa Hobson