A gentle giant and poster boy for endangered species everywhere, watching pandas close-up has got be one of the classic wildlife encounters – it’s a humbling sight to see them move around their naturalistic enclosures like big black and white teddy bears, munching on bamboo, perhaps giving each other a gentle wrestle.
Here’s the lowdown on these majestic animals, so you can impress your family with your dazzling panda-knowledge when you visit Chengdu’s breeding centre.
- A panda’s paw has six digits – five fingers and an opposable thumb (actually an enlarged wrist bone).
- There are thought to be less than 1,000 giant pandas in the wild, with a little over 100 in captivity.
- They’re found in a few mountain ranges in central China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.
- They inhabit mountain forests that are dense with bamboo and conifers.
- Because of their inefficient intestinal system, giant pandas have to feed for around 15 hours every day, with bamboo accounting for 99 percent of their diet.
- Giant pandas are one of the few species of bears that do not hibernate – it is unable to store sufficient fat because of its diet.
- They live at relatively high altitudes (between (1,500 and 3,000 metres). Their thick, oily fur helps keep them warm.
- Male pandas are known as boars and females are sows.
- They’re solitary creatures, but if you’re lucky enough to see a group of them, the collective noun is sleuth.
- At birth, an infant panda is 1/900th its mother’s size.
So there you go – memorise the above and instant panda expertise awaits!
Feature image c/o Nathan Rupert, Flickr