Giant Panda

Native to Central Asia

As China’s unofficial mascot and the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund, the giant panda is one of the most beloved animals in the world. It is also one of the more endangered species in the world, with only about 1000-2000 living in the wild. Giant pandas are identified by their distinctive black and white colouring. Their ears, muzzle, eyes, shoulders and legs are black while the rest of their body is white. Their thick hair keeps them warm in the cool, wet mountain zones. One of the interesting evolutionary traits of the panda is their protruding wrist bone that acts like a thumb. This helps the pandas hold bamboo while they munch on it with their strong molar teeth. Bamboo makes up nearly the entire diet of the panda. Due to the low nutritional value of bamboo, pandas need to eat 10-20 kg (20-40 lb.) a day. Occasionally pandas will eat other available food, including small rodents, eggs, fish and other flora. Bamboo provides a good amount of water, but pandas need to supplement this with fresh water daily. One the main reasons that pandas have become endangered is habitat destruction. As the population in China continues to grow, pandas’ habitat gets taken over by development, pushing them into smaller and less livable areas. Habitat destruction also leads to food shortages. Pandas feed on several varieties of bamboo that bloom at different times of the year. If one type of bamboo is destroyed by development, it can leave the pandas with nothing to eat during the time it normally blooms, increasing the risk of starvation.

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