Pandas of China
Pandas in China and Their Habitats
The Giant Panda is a species of bear found in China. The giant panda probably evolved into a seperate species around 3 million years ago. Although considered a bear, the giant panda has a number of distinguishing chararactistics different from many bears:
Why are Giant Pandas so Appealing to Humans?
Their physican and behavioral characteristics remind us of human babies:
Reference: Abigail Tucker, The Science Behind Why Pandas Are So Damn Cute:There’s a reason why millions adore these furry exemplars of China’s “soft power” Smithsonian Magazine, November 2013
Giant Panda Cub Climbing and Falling from a Tree
Giant Panda Cubs Rolling Down a Hill
The giant panda was once found in southern and eastern China and the countries of Myanmar and northern Vietnam. Habitat loss means that the giant panda is now found in six mountain ranges in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
Giant Pandas and Bamboo
Giant Pandas obtain 99% of their nutrition from bamboo, which is not all that nutritious and is very hard for animals to eat. Therefore, giant pandas have to eat a lot of bamboo, between 25 and 80 pounds a day. That takes a lot of time and these pandas can eat up to 14 hours in a day.
Scientists studied three male and three female pandas in the Qinling Mountains of China for 6 years and analyzed the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium in the plants they ate.
There are two type of bamboo in the Qinling Mountains: wood and arrow bamboo which grow at different altitudes and at different times of the year. Giant pandas prefer young wood bamboo spouts in the spring (a good source of nitrogen and phosphorus), young arrow bamboo spouts in early summer and in mid-summer switched to young arrow bamboo leaves (a good source of calcium- important when pregnant). After delivering their babies in August, the giant pandas return to lower elevations and eat young wood bamboo leaves which also have a lot of calcium.
Reference: Sandhya Sekar, How pandas survive on their bamboo-only diet, Science Magazine, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jul. 9, 2014
Why are Giant Panda Cubs Such Excellent Tree Climbers?
Within a couple of months of age, giant panda cubs become skilled at climbing trees. Although adult giant pandas have few predators other than humans, cubs need to have a quick escape to avoid predators such as jackals, snow leopards and yellow-throated martens. Giant panda cubs can't also be watched by their moms all the time because they spend nearly half their day eating!
Giant pandas have long, strong, hard and retractile claws and broad paws with furry undersides which help them climb trees. Adults don't spend a lot of time in trees but the cute cubs sure do!
Trees Make Great Places for Naps!
This Cub Found a Spot 100 Feet (30 Meters) Above the Ground!
The Keep One Eye Covered when Sleeping Technique!
Do Giant Panda Cubs Love to Play?
They Sure Do!
Should I Balance This Twig on My Nose?
Or Should I Eat It!
How Are the Chinese People Conserving the Giant Panda?
Giant Pandas in the United States
National Zoo in Washington, DC
San Diego Zoo
There is another Panda in China- The Red Panda!
Red pandas are not related to the Giant Panda and are considered living fossils because no other animal is closely related. Red pandas' somewhat nearest relatives are weasels, raccoons and skunks. Red pandas share several characteristics with giant pandas: overlapping habitat, bamboo in the diet and the modified wrist bone that serves as a thumb.
Red pandas have five toes that are widely separated and semi-retractable claws. They share the giant panda's "thumb:" a modified wrist bone—that is used to help grasp bamboo when feeding.
Red pandas can be found in northern Myanmar (Burma), west Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces of China and in Nepal, India and Tibet in high altitude temperate forests.
Approximately 10,000 red pandas are left in the world and they are considered a vulnerable species.
"Saving Giant Pandas with San Diego Zoo Global!" Webinar by San Diego Zoo Global, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Brief Overview of San Diego's Giant Panda Program
Story of hope, if we work together can save species from extinction.
Reproductive biology- giant pandas are solitary animals and getting together can be difficult
Building relationships with collegues in China
Conservation Takes Time
At two weeks of age, the black color shows up on panda cubs in the skin as pigmentation then the fur changes color.
They eat 14 hours a day and poop up to 50 times a day.
Large bamboo die off in 1970s accompanied by habitat fragmentation lead to the crash in giant panda numbers.
In mid 1990s, captive population was not doing well 100 in captivity and only 40 percent females were having babies and only 7 breeding males were in China. Now, over 400 are in captivity, 80% females are reproducing.
Pandas use vocalizations and scent to communicate during mating. Scent marking occurs 2 weeks prior to mating then vocalizations start about 1 week prior to mating.
Community of giant panda researchers. Excellent communication with Wolong and exchange of researchers.
Bai Yun has been a perfect panda. Very good mom and good relationship with Gao Gao who is an amazing breeder.
What does it mean to be a good panda mom. Used video and audio to record activity in den. Giant pandas are fascinating to observe, start off as helpless cubs who go under significant changes, including how to eat bamboo of cub watching mom eat bamboo.
Bifengxia is the primary breeding facility- 20 cubs per year. Wolong is changing to more of a release into the wild facility.
Greatest change in panda recovery has been habitat preservation.