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Panda Bear

Panda Bear, classified Ailuropoda_melanoleuca in the bear family, is listed as an endangered species, and is now limited to the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, and Shanxi of China. This is a debatable issue that whether the Panda should be referred as a bear: scientists and researchers differ in their observance that whether Panda is truly a bear or it is a raccoon! However, there are two types of species in Panda Bear, i.e., white and black, and the red pandas, but the white and black panda bear is most commonly known and popular.

Panda Bear, in general, has a round head, stocky body, and short tail. The weight of an adult Panda is around 350 pounds, while a newborn cub weighs around 5 ounces. The height up to the shoulders ranges from 65 to 70 cm. These have a distinction of having black and white markings on the body, as the limbs, eyes, ears and shoulders are all black, while the rest of the body is white. When a cub is born, it is totally white and the black markings develop thereafter. One more notable feature of Panda Bears is that they have an extra, opposable digit on the hand, which is known as the panda’s thumb. The life span in the wild is around 25 years.

Panda bears mature at an age of 5 to 7 years, and females increase their scent markings, and at the same time become more vocal when sexually receptive. A female Panda bear produce cubs once a year. Mating takes place during March to May, while female is in estrous for about 1 to 3 days. The cubs are born mostly in August and September. The cubs are blind and small at the time of birth. However, the mother helps to place the little cub in a position to suckle, and the sucking tales place for 14 times a day. The cubs remain with their mothers for at least 18 months and then become independent.

Panda Bears descend to lower elevations during the winter, and do not hibernate like other bears. They usually take shelter in trees or caves rather building permanent dens to stay. Generally, it is a solitary animal except for the breeding period. Panda Bears are good climbers and are also capable of swimming, though these are primarily terrestrial. Panda Bear spends most of the daytime in eating and the movement is very little.

Panda bear lives mostly in and around mountainous slopes and bamboo is the major source of its diet. There are around fifteen types of bamboo with different cycles—it is a very poor nutritional diet but is available the year round. These may also compete for a plentiful source of food. Panda bears are well known for their upright feeding, in which the forelegs are free to help in handling the bamboo. The extra digit on the hand of the panda bear is helpful in tearing the bamboo. The stomach walls are strong enough to digest this diet. The population of panda bears starts falling with the die-off cycle for bamboos.

Further Reading

Animal Diversity Web
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ailuropoda_melanoleuca.html

Endangered Species: Panda Conservation
http://www.worldwildlife.org/pandas/conservation.htm

Animal Info
http://www.animalinfo.org/species/carnivor/ailumela.htm

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