Giant Panda is mostly found living in the forests of China as its habitat of choice for thousands of years. Today Pandas are arguably one of the most beloved animals on the planet because of their attractive black and white fur and smiling feature. Panda is the poster boy for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the organization has frequently chosen the animal in its logos over the years. It is also the unofficial mascot of the Chinese government. Following are some amazing panda facts that will see you appreciating the importance of this animal in the wildlife if you don’t already.
Amazing Panda Facts Will Blow Your Mind – Interesting
The Feared Pandas
Pandas are described in the folklore as dangerous animals that had the capability of consuming metal as their favorite meal. Ancient Chinese feared the Panda as they dubbed them as “metal devouring black and white Tapirs.” Many games and animated movies are also based on that ancient fear that depicted Pandas as badasses as we now have a popular animated feature film franchise called the Kung Fu Panda. Fighting games like Tekken also have Pandas learn Chinese martial arts.
Pseudo Opposable Thumb
One of the distinctive features of Panda is that through the evolutionary process, they have developed their wrist bones into pseudo-opposable thumbs that help them in holding bamboo while they chew on it.
One of the most amazing panda facts is that 99% of their diet solely relies on consumption of bamboos. Despite that pandas are not classified as herbivores. Because when bamboo supply is sparse, they will splurge on other foods like small fish, rodents or even other flora such as bamboo.
It might come as a shock to you, but one of the most interesting panda facts is that they have one of the highest bite forces among all of the carnivores including the mighty crocodile. The reason for Pandas to eat bamboos despite having such naturally strong teeth for eating flesh is that they don’t have any umami receptors which makes the meat taste like bland substances.
Even though pandas are big and strong, they are usually very shy creatures, and they prefer to stay alone munching on their bamboo all the time. Because of this and their eating habit, a giant panda needs at least 2.5 to 4 square miles of living area to survive and thrive. Sometimes, however, a group of pandas may deem it necessary to live together when food is in short supply or within a limited area. A group of pandas is referred to as an ‘embarrassment’. I kid you not. It’s perhaps because they usually live alone.
Pandas Are Bears
Yes, you heard it right. Pandas belong to the bear family with the species being evolved over time to live in the bamboo habitat. You might be thinking ‘how could cute, cuddly and bamboo-eating pandas can be related to the meat eating deadly bears?’ Well, that is genetics my friends and there isn’t anything we could do about it. Pandas have the second largest tail of any of the bear species with the first place going to the sloth bear.
When World Wildlife Fund was being founded in 1961, pandas were the key element in making the organization such a success. An organization such as WWF needs a symbol that unites people together for a noble common cause. Trying to save the endangered panda species became the organization’s main selling point. In the words of Sir Peter Scott, the man who designed first ever WWF logo, the organization needed an animal that was loved by people, cute and was also endangered. However, one of the most amazing panda facts is that the creature was chosen as WWF logo to save printing costs. Chi-Chi was the giant panda that inspired the logo in 1961 when it was brought to the London Zoo and instantly became a household sensation.
Don’t Be Shy
As explained above, pandas are extremely shy creatures that usually avoid confrontation. That applies even more with panda cubs. So to work with pandas, researchers have to wear panda suit lest they scare off the panda cub.
They Eat All the Time
One of the biggest drawbacks of having bamboo as a primary food source is that it has very little nutritional value. As such, giant pandas have to consume 15-20 kg of bamboo every day, almost 20% of their total body weight (100-115 kg). Also, bamboo is not something that you could just eat right off the bat. The bamboo sticks first need to be collected in ample amount then preparing said bamboo for consumption by softening it using their strong molar. Finally, the task of eating the thing is carried out. One of the awesome panda facts is that they spend 55% of their lives doing these three activities; collecting, preparing and eating bamboo.
They Poop a Lot
What else would you expect to do when you consume 20 kg of food every day? A human that weighs roughly the same as a panda consumes 2.5 to 4 kg of food per day. The world average is 1.7 kg per day of food. Pandas poop as many as 40 times a day. Depending on what you have read so far, you can characterize a Panda’s day into three main activities. Eating, Pooping and Sleeping; which is a dream life for sloths like me.
The Little Cub
A baby panda is extremely fragile when it is born. They are blind for more than the first couple of months. During that time, the mother doesn’t leave the cave cares for the cub by mostly feeding it. When the mother has to go out for food, the cub is still unprepared for the outside life. In that case, one of the most awesome panda facts is that the cub eats its mother’s feces for nutritional value.
Pandas on Loan
All of the Pandas that live across the globe are on loan from China. Whenever a baby panda is born elsewhere, it is shipped to China via FedEx to help expand the gene pool.
The Endangered Species
The total number of remaining pandas in the world alive today is anywhere between 1,600 and 2,000. The reason for such low numbers is the increasing Chinese population, especially during the 18th and 19th century. The great population meant the destruction of habitat for human dwellings which led to fewer bamboo sources for pandas, food that is essential for them to survive. Another reason for their very low number is the infrequent mating of pandas. One of the most amazing panda facts is that the female giant panda is fertile for only 3% of the year. Such low fertility rate means that it is going to take decades, if not a couple of centuries, to restore the panda population enough to take them off the endangered species list.
Pandas are beautiful, gentle creatures, and they deserve that humans try anything possible to save this bear species. They are vital to the world’s biodiversity, and everyone should be more involved in restoring their population.