Giant Panda FAQ

A panda mom and her baby enjoy time together. Scientists have found that wild giant pandas mostly give birth in middle and late August. by Chen Jian

The giant panda, one of the most adorable creatures in nature, is loved by people around the world. However, as a “living fossil” with an evolutionary history of eight million years, the biological characteristics of giant pandas are even more fascinating. China Pictorial has compiled a few facts to sketch a clearer picture of the animal.

1. Do pandas only live in China?

Evidence of prehistoric giant pandas has also been found in other countries. Fossil evidence shows that they once lived throughout Southeast Asia. It would be more accurate to say that the surviving giant pandas only live in China. This is a result of the animal’s living habits and the changes of the ecological environment.

2. How is the age of a giant panda determined?

By observing a giant panda’s tooth enamel, scientists can see growth lines like those in a tree trunk, which can be used to determine the age of a panda. However, this method can only be used for giant pandas that are dead, captured or rescued—not for those living in the wild. How to determine the age of wild giant pandas will be a focus of future research.

3. How do giant pandas get so fat although they only eat bamboo?

Giant pandas look big and round, but they are not actually very fat. Actually, a giant panda’s body has very limited fat, accounting for only seven to eight percent of its weight. Its big size is mainly because of the large skeleton and strong muscles.

4. Why don’t giant pandas hibernate like other bears?

Giant pandas don’t get enough calories from bamboo to survive through hibernation. Moreover, their food sources are quite abundant throughout the year, so they don’t need to hibernate.

5. Is the reproductive rate of wild giant pandas extremely low?

No. Theoretically, a female wild giant panda can give birth to seven cubs in her lifetime, with an annual reproductive rate of 62.5 percent.

6. Are giant pandas all black and white?

There is an incredibly rare subspecies, known as the brown giant panda, which looks quite different from the iconic black and white variety. This rare subspecies has been spotted only in the Qinling Mountains in northwestern China’s Shaanxi Province. But the reasons behind the changes in fur color require further research. 

7. How can scientists distinguish two giant pandas that look identical?

Many people think giant pandas all look the same, but that’s because they don’t know much about them. Like humans, each giant panda has unique characteristics that distinguish it from others.

8. Considering cloning technology, do we have to worry about the extinction of giant pandas?

At present, we don’t need to worry about the question. Because the population of giant pandas is developing well in general, they won’t need many special technologies to prevent extinction.


Related articles