Let's learn about the bear species that became the symbol of species conservation.
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The Giant panda is a vulnerable bear species inhabiting the subtropical forests of China.
The Giant panda's historic geographical range covered Central and South China, but today only small and isolated populations can be found. Pandas used to inhabit lowland areas as well, but due to deforestation and other factors, today their habitat is limited to highlands.
Giant pandas spend most of their time on the ground, but they can also climb trees or swim. They can also stand on their hind legs, but this posture is tiring for them. They use every opportunity to rest.
Bamboo leaves, shoots and stems make up 98% of the Giant pandas' diet. They usually eat while sitting, so their front paws are free and can be used to hold the food.
Pandas are active at dusk or at night; during the day they sleep in tree hollows, rock cavities or caves. They make tunnel-like paths in bamboo forests, connecting their foraging area with their resting place. They spend 10–12 hours sitting and feeding a day. They make sounds similar to those produced by sheep.
Unlike other bears, Giant pandas do not hibernate in the cold season, instead, they move to low-lying grounds with higher temperature. The life expectancy of Giant pandas in the wild is about 25 years.
- body length (including tail): 150–190 cm
- adult body mass: 70–125 kg
- large head
- black ears
- short tail
- large paws
- black front legs
- black hind legs
Their stocky bodies are typical of bears, the only difference being the black-and-white pattern of their fur.
Their head seems to be larger than that of other bears: This is due mainly to their strong jaw muscles and the enlarged bones that provide an attachment surface for those. This is why pandas' skulls are roundish.
- small intestine
- large intestine
- spinal cord
- teeth - Pandas have 42 teeth in total. Their rear premolars and molars are wider and larger than those of other bear species.
- 'sixth fingers' - They are not real fingers, but enlarged wrist bones. Similarly to human thumbs, they are opposable, so pandas use them to grasp their food while feeding.
- large skull - It is proportionally larger than that of other bear species, and provides a larger attachment surface for the strong jaw muscles.
- adult animal
- few weeks old cub
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