Bear Species
Giant Panda
( Ailuropoda melanoleuca )

Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)  (cc) amygwen
(cc) amygwen

Physical description

The giant panda is a medium-sized bear: adult males weigh 85–125 kg, while females are smaller and weigh approximately 70–100 kg. They have proportionately larger heads and shorter legs than other bear species.

The giant panda has a very distinctive black and white coat, with coarse, oily guard hairs measuring 4–10 cm.

Diet

Bamboo shoots account for 99 per cent of the giant panda diet. Pandas are uniquely adapted to feeding on bamboo: this bear has an opposable thumb, evolved for grasping bamboo shoots, and heavily cusped molar teeth that are wide and flat and clearly adapted to feeding on bamboo.

Behaviour

Relationships between adult females and their young are the longest lasting among giant pandas, lasting 18 months. They are solitary most of their lives and use their anal scent glands to maintain spatial and temporal separation by scent marking conifer trees in their home range.

Conflict with humans

Giant pandas are relatively shy bears and not prone to be aggressive towards humans. Their reliance on bamboo means they are rarely involved in raids on human-grown crops.

2008 conservation status

Giant pandas are the rarest and most endangered bear species, found only in portions of six mountain ranges in the China. They are classified as ‘EN’ (endangered) on the IUCN 2006 Red List, primarily as a result of severely fragmented habitats and small population sizes.

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