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The Giant Panda. Facts You May Not Know!

You can easily recognize the giant panda from its striking black-and-white coloring, round face, and smiling mouth. This mammal is a member of the order Carnivora (the carnivores, or meat eaters). Giant pandas are found in bamboo forests in the mountains of central China. Bamboo is a tall, fast-growing grass that is the main food of giant pandas. The giant panda is also commonly called panda bear.



Like other bears, the giant panda has a bulky build and a short, stubby tail. It also has a round face with powerful jaw muscles. Adults are about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long from the tip of the nose to the rump and weigh about 165 to 250 pounds (75 to 115 kilograms) or more.


Giant pandas usually live alone. They are mainly ground dwellers but also climb trees. Giant pandas can easily stand on their hind legs and are commonly observed somersaulting, rolling, and dust bathing (rolling in and covering themselves with dust or dry dirt). They can also swim.



As much as 98 percent of the panda’s diet consists of bamboo shoots, leaves, and stems. On each front paw is an extension of the wrist bone, which the panda uses somewhat like a thumb to help it grasp the slender stalks of bamboo. Unable to digest cellulose, a major component of bamboo, giant pandas rapidly pass large quantities of the grass through their digestive tracts on a daily basis. They spend as much as 16 out of every 24 hours feeding, generally consuming some 20–40 pounds (9–18 kilograms) of bamboo every day.



The female giant panda is able to breed for only one to three days in the spring. In the fall she gives birth to one or two cubs (but in the wild only one usually survives). Newborn cubs are tiny and helpless. They spend the first 100–120 days of life in the den in which they were born. Their eyes don’t begin to open until the cubs are 6–8 weeks old. They begin to crawl a couple of weeks later and are walking at 3–4 months old. Cubs begin to eat bamboo when they are 6–9 months old.


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