The panda bear, also known as the giant panda bear, is native to central-western and southwestern China. Panda bears have distinct physical features including large, patches of black fur around their eyes, over their ears and across their round body, which is covered in white fur. Their bodies are round due to their diet. Though classified as a carnivore, the panda bear has a diet which consists mainly of bamboo; panda bears will occasionally eat other foods like honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges and bananas.
The average panda bear eats as much as 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo shoots a day. Because panda bears consume a diet low in nutrition, it is important for it to keep its digestive tract full. The limited energy input imposed on it by its diet has affected the panda’s behavior. The Giant Panda tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply sloping terrain in order to limit its energy expenditures. To learn more about the panda bear’s diet and behavior, read environmental magazines like Smithsonian, Audubon and Preservation magazine.
In the wild, panda bears’ life expectancy is about 14 to 20 years; in habitats managed by humans the expectancy goes up to approximately 30 years.
Panda bears are listed as endangered species. The latest estimate of pandas living in the wild is 1,600, according to National Geographic magazine. The greatest threats to the panda species is habitat loss and a low birthrate. Poaching by locals and by foreigners is also a threat to the survival of panda bears.
Efforts to sustain the panda bear population are international. In China there is a panda sanctuary called the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in the province of Sichuan, protection by law from the Chinese government and other wildlife reserves. In the U.S., researchers at zoos like the San Diego Zoo are studying pandas’ behaviors and needs in hopes of learning how to better care for the animals. Some of the behaviors and needs being studied are panda bears’ scent marking, nutritional needs and how they communicate with each other. In addition, worldwide environmental organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature are working on saving pandas.