The Giant Panda is probably the most recognized of all the endangered animals. The giant panda has the typical body shape of the bear. It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle legs and shoulders. Typically the coloring of any animal has to do with blending into their environment, but scientists are a little stumped by their coloring. It does seem to work well camouflaging them in the bamboo forest’s but is an extreme camouflage that is not displayed in any other species.
A fur coat is a must for these lumbering bears. They live in broad leaf and coniferous forests with a dense undergrowth of bamboo. These forests are at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. Their fur protects them from the chilly, misty environment.There are very places left where they live in the wild. They can be found in the provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, and Sichuan. There are approximately 1,600 giant panda bears left in the wild and more than 300 hundred living in captivity.
The Chinese call the panda “Da xiong mao” which translates to giant bear cat. Why would they call this bear a bear cat? Giant panda’s have eyes that are different from every other bears. Most bears have very poor eye sight and use their keen sense of smell to compensate. However the giant panda have very keen sight. Their eyes are shaped like those of a cat, with pupils that run vertical slits instead of round pupils. It is believed this is how the Giant Panda received it’s name.
Nature tends to take care of their own. They give the animal the things they need to adapt and survive. The Giant Panda has a pseudo thumb, which gives the animal grasping ability. Since the panda typically sites upright and grasps bamboo to eat, they can manipulate the bamboo shoots better. They also have over-sized and very strong molars needed for chewing. In order to live a healthy life in the wild a panda consumes 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo a day. It spends 10 to 16 hours a day looking for and eating food.
Given the option Giant Pandas are solitary in nature. They occasionally communicate through calls, scent marks and mating rituals, however, to keep the supply of good in tact they need to spread out to survive.
Female pandas ovulate once a year in the spring. The short period of two or three days after ovulation are the only times they can conceive. Given this very short window of time, many female pandas never give birth. In her life span she may raise only five to eight cubs.
These are a truly unique and endangered species.