Something You Don’t Know about Giant Pandas
Date: 2017-01-05

  Are you a fan of giant pandas? I believe the answer is yes! But do you really know aboutthem? Actually it has beenseveral decades since we startedbreeding giant pandas. Through our protection and research, we have unveiled a lot ofsecrets about them, but today there are still a lot of misunderstandings about this unique creature. Let’s take a look at the following common misunderstandings.


Giant pandas are so cute and not ferocious.


  But do you know? There was a paper in the Chinese Journal of Ecology listed the bite force from 151 carnivorous animals, and giant pandas’ bite force has been ranked fifth, closely behind lions, brown bears, tigers, and polar bears. Do you still think that they are cute and harmless ? Actually, just one bite can be powerful enough to kill a man! Such a powerful creature prefer to be cute for living rather than a ferocious beast. Amazing!



Giant pandasare so lazy! They walk leisurely!


  But do you know? Although there are no test results on how fastthey can run, but their speed can reach a high level if they run in a straight way! In captivity, keepers usually try to avoid panda babies’“attack” by running from side to side. In the wild, when pandas encounter danger or under attack , they run even faster! Especially when they go acrossthrough forests or bushes. There’s a saying that giant pandascancross anywhere once its head can get through .



Giant pandas only eat bamboo! They are herbivorous animals!


  But do you know? Giant pandasare actually omnivore! Now, giant pandas’main food is bamboo, so it seems to be classified to “Herbivore” from feeding. However, in terms of its digestive tract analysis,physiological characteristics, and standpoints on species evolution, giant pandasare veritably Carnivore. In the scientific classification giant pandasareCarnivore,Mammalian. In fact, as wolves and tigers, adorable pandas are classified as members offerocious beastsfamily. The ancestors of giant pandasare believed to have been carnivores with sharp, developed canines and short intestinal tract. They had physiologic featuresofcarnivores. During the evolution, these features have been remained. Due to great changes of environment, they had to change their eating habits to adapt the environment and survive. Gradually, they are used to live in the forests and eat bamboo with a low digestibility and live peacefully. Therefore,modern giant pandasbecome carnivoresbut eats like vegetarians. The food of pandas in captivity is special prepared---They mainly eat bamboo and bamboo shoots (sometimes with the addition of bread and fruits like apples and watermelons). In fact, wild giant pandassometimes will forage down from mountains for food,even attack small livestock or destroycrops when food is not enough. As for the news that pandas have been spotted eating antelope leg bones in the wild, there are two explanations at present. One is that pandasare absorbing heat and calcium. Another is that it may be one of the methods for old giant pandas to prevent osteoporosis. In fact, in the evolutionary history of the carnivore, there are many cases that animals change the diet due to environment changes. For example, bears, which arevery close to giant pandas in genetype,have become omnivores as well.



Pandas’ sizeis huge, and so is their cubs!


  But do you know? Panda cubs aretypical altricial animals, who are underdeveloped and have basically no immunity. So when they are born, the average weight is about 145g which is only about 1/1000 of adult Pandas. In captivity, the tiniest cub is only 51g, and the biggest is 225g.


  Why panda cubsare so tiny? There are twomain reasons. One is that the gestation period of mother panda varies from 83-200 days, and 144+/-20 days on average. The second reason is embryos of giantpandas have the physiological phenomenon of “Delayed Implantation”. The real developing time afterembryos implanted is only around 1 monthand a half . This is also the main reason why theweight of newborn cubs is light.




The bigger pandas grow, the more grubby they are! They look yellowish and dirty!


  However, thoseyellowishpandas do not mean they are really dirty ? For some pandas it is just because their genes make they look yellowish and brown.Many people would askquestion of why we don’t bathe pandas and let them roll around in the mud, there are many reasons. Firstly, mud can absorb oil and fat which can protect the pandas from parasite invasion. Also, mud can provide pandas with microelements through their fur and skin. In another words, being dirty is actually a kind of selfpreservation mechanism for pandas.



Were pandas named giant panda from the beginning?!


  Yet do you know that pandas have been called by other names? For example, in Taiwan, locals call them “Cat Bears”. Why is it so? In 1869, the French priest David found a panda in Muping, Xikang (now Baoxing, Sichuan Province ). He found that, although they are different from bears, the overall shape of this species is not yet far removed from their cousins and is still classified to the bear family in phylogeny. Eventually this new species was given a scientific name of Urusmelanoleucus (Latin for black and white bear.). In English, people call this animal“Cat Bar” or “Giant Panda”. But coincidentally, when panda was exhibited in the Western China Science Museum in Chongqing for the first time, it was read as “Bear Cat” due to the locals’ different reading habits. From then on, “Cat Bear” became “Bear Cat,” and this name was gradually widely used in Chinese Mainland.


  In addition, according to ancient Chinese books, pandas are also called“Bai Pi”, “Iron-eaten Beast”, “Pi Xiu”, and “Tapir”.Nowadays, we also call it the Spotted Bear or Bamboo Bear.



  Want to know more about pandas? Eager to figure out all their little secrets? Welcome to the public education rooms that set up by us in the Sunshine Nursery House and No.1 Pandas’ Enclosure in the Panda Base in Chengdu. Here we have long-term and free public education activities called “Panda Class,” where the lecture is conducted in lively and interesting ways. More gifts in these interactive activities. We’re looking forward to your participation!




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