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Giant Panda Facts


An adult can grow to 3 1/2 to five feet and weigh up to 350 pounds. In the wild, adult female pandas give birth once a year and usually produce two cubs in the litter. A newborn cub will weigh around 5 ounces is all white and blind at birth. The black spots develop after about a month. A cub will begin to eat bamboo at about six months and be fully weaned after nine months. At the end of the first year they are about 70 to 80 pounds. The cubs will stay with their mother for about 1 1/2 years. A Panda reaches maturity at five to seven years and lives in the wild for about 25 years.

While we generally refer to pandas as "bears" there is much discussion around whether they are bears, raccoons or their own species. They share some features of bears and some of raccoons.

Pandas are only found in a relatively small area in Asia. Ancient chinese history and writings abound with mention of the Panda. They were kept by emperors and their hides were highly valued. They carried a mystique and were believed to be able to ward off evil spirits and natural disasters.

Pandas live in and around mountainous slopes and exist on a diet largely comprised of bamboo shoots. They eat most of the day to consume the food they need for survival. There are about fifteen types of bamboo, reach with varying life cycles. Panda Bears eat primarily bamboo shoots. As die-offs in the bamboo cycle occur, the panda population also falls.

Bamboo is the most important plant in a giant panda's life. Pandas live in cold and rainy bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China. They spend up to 12 hours each day eating bamboo. Because bamboo is so low in nutrients, pandas eat as much as 80 pounds (38 kilograms) of it each day! Pandas grasp bamboo stalks with their five fingers and a special wristbone, then use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers to reveal the soft inner tissue. Strong jaw bones and cheek muscles help pandas crush and chew the thick stalks with their flattened back teeth. Bamboo leaves are also on the menu, as pandas strip them off the stalks, wad them up, and swallow them. Giant pandas have also been known to eat grasses, bulbs, fruits, some insects, and even rodents.