U.S. & Wildlife Service Facts ( melanoleuca)

Giant panda. John J. Mosesso

What is black and white Giant pandas are with one or two cubs weighing 3 to 5 and loved all over the world? If you striking black and white markings. ounces each is born in a sheltered guessed the giant panda, you’re The ears, eye patches, legs and den. Usually only one cub survives. right! shoulder band are black; the rest The eyes open at 1 1/2 to 2 months of the body is whitish. They have and the cub becomes mobile at The giant panda is also known as thick, woolly coats to insulate them approximately three months of the panda , bear, or in from the cold. Adults are four to six age. At 12 months the cub becomes Chinese as Daxiongmao, the “large feet long and may weigh up to 350 totally independent. While their bear .” In fact, its scientific pounds—about the same size as average life span in the wild is name means “black and white cat- the . However, about 15 , giant pandas in footed animal.” unlike the black bear, giant pandas captivity have been known to live do not hibernate and cannot walk well into their twenties. Giant pandas are found only in on their hind legs. the mountains of central — Scientists have debated for more in small isolated areas of the The giant panda has unique front than a century whether giant north and central portions of the —one of the wrist bones is pandas belong to the bear , Province, in the mountains enlarged and elongated and is used the family, or a separate bordering the southernmost part of like a , enabling the giant family of their own. This is because Province and in the panda to grasp stalks of bamboo. the giant panda and its cousin, Mountains of the Province. They also have very powerful jaws the lesser or , share and teeth to crush bamboo. many characteristics with both Giant pandas live in dense bamboo bears and . Recent DNA and coniferous forests at altitudes While bamboo stalks and analysis indicates that giant pandas of 5,000 to 10,000 feet. The make up about 95 percent of its are more closely related to bears mountains are shrouded in heavy diet, the giant panda also feeds on and red pandas are more closely clouds with torrential rains or gentians, irises, crocuses, fish, and related to raccoons. Accordingly, dense mist throughout the . occasionally small . It must giant pandas are categorized in the eat 20 to 40 pounds of food each bear family while red pandas are Giant pandas have existed since day to survive, and spends 10 to 16 the only members of their family, the Era (about 600,000 hours a day feeding. . years ago), when their geographic range extended throughout The giant panda reaches breeding In 1869, a French and southern China. remains also maturity between 4 and 10 years of naturalist named Pere Armand have been found in present-day age. usually takes place in David was the first European to Burma. the spring, and 3 to 5 months later, describe the giant panda. In 1936, clothing designer Ruth of the demand for land and natural In 1984, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Harkness brought the first live resources by China’s 1.3 billion Service listed the giant panda giant panda, named Su-Lin, out of inhabitants. as an endangered under China and to the West. Su-Lin lived the Act. at ’s Brookfield and was To offset this situation, the Chinese Endangered means a species is a celebrity until he died in 1938. government has set aside more considered in danger of than 40 nature reserves where throughout all or a significant Today, about 300 giant pandas bamboo flourishes and giant pandas portion of its range. This protection are in captivity in Chinese , are thought to live. The government also prohibits giant pandas from reserves, and breeding centers. also placed a moratorium on being imported into the United Only about 24 giant pandas live logging in panda through States except under certain in zoos outside of China. In 1980, 2010. conditions. the first giant panda birth outside China occurred at the City Giant pandas are also susceptible The giant panda is also protected Zoo. to , or illegal killing, as under the Convention on their dense carries a high International Trade in Endangered Giant pandas are among the rarest price in illegal markets in the Far Species of Wild and Flora in the world—there are East. The Chinese government has (CITES), a treaty among 175 an estimated 1,600 left in the wild. imposed life sentences for those nations aimed at illegal trade in Although adult giant pandas have convicted of poaching giant pandas. endangered animal and few natural enemies, the young Recent sentences, however, have species. are sometimes preyed upon by been much less. . The Fish and Wildlife Service is the The low reproductive capacity of federal agency responsible for the Habitat encroachment and the giant panda makes it more U.S. government’s implementation destruction are the greatest threats vulnerable to these threats, and of CITES. The Service has to the continued existence of the less capable of rebounding from its established a panda policy to assist giant panda. This is mainly because low numbers. zoos applying for giant panda importation permits. The policy focuses on the conservation of the species in the wild.

Giant pandas are currently housed in four U.S. zoos —San Diego, , National, and Memphis — under permits issued by the Service following the Giant Panda ______Policy.

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January 2011

Giant panda Frank Kohn/USFWS