Giant Panda 

Written by Sally Guo Updated Apr. 2, 2021

Giant pandas are the national treasure of China.  They mainly live in the bamboo forest high in the mountains in southwest China. Although they are members of the bear family, they are not similar to other bears, in that their diet is over 99% bamboo.

With their bold black-and-white coat and rotund body, the pandas are very lovely. Giant pandas get attention from all over the world.

The panda is sleeping on the trees
A panda is sleeping on the trees.

Simple Facts to Know Giant Pandas

A giant panda has a typical bear’s body but is a distinctive black and white color, with black fur around the eyes and on the ears, legs, chest, and shoulders, while the rest of the body is white. 

Read more interesting facts on Giant Pandas

Giant Panda Habitat - Where Do Pandas Live in the Wild?

Once, giant pandas were spread across China, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Nowadays, giant pandas are only found in about 20 isolated areas of bamboo forests in some mountain ranges in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Most of the wild pandas live in the Minshan Mountains and Qinling Mountains.

Read more on Habitat of Giant Panda.

How Many Pandas Are Left in the World

Currently, 375 pandas are living in captivity, and 1864 living in the wild. The giant panda is no longer an endangered species. 

What Do Giant Pandas Eat

Although a giant panda possesses the digestive system of a carnivore, it is almost entirely vegetarian.

A panda’s daily diet consists almost entirely of bamboo. A panda can eat for 14 hours and consume 1238 kilograms of bamboo a day. Sometimes, however, they do not just eat bamboo. Only about 1% of their diet consists of other plants and even meat, such as small rodents.

How Long Do Pandas Live For?

One-year-old Giant Pandas
One-year-old Giant Pandas

Read more on  Panda's Life Cycle.

What Do Pandas Do Every Day?

We have explained that pandas eat for about 14 hours a day so what do they do with the rest of the day? The answer is that they sleep. If you have visited a panda in a zoo, you may have seen them sleeping. Pandas sleep on their stomach with their forelegs stretched out or huddled up.

Although they like to sleep and eat, they can do more. They are also excellent swimmers and good at climbing trees.

What Do Pandas Look Like While Eating?

Pandas usually sit upright while eating. They are in a pose that resembles how humans sit on the floor. This posture makes it convenient for them to grasp bamboo with a pseudo thumb on their front paws. They actually have six fingers, as well as strong teeth and powerful jaws to crush tough bamboo.

Pandas are eating bamboo
Pandas eat bamboo

Social Life of Giant Pandas

Generally, adult wild giant pandas are solitary but they communicate periodically through scent, call, and meeting with other pandas. Male pandas usually find females to mate within spring. Then, the male pandas will leave. Female pandas give birth to a cub or twins, or very occasionally triplets, after five months of pregnancy. However, a panda mother only can take care of one cub as a panda cub is very weak and only 1/900th the size of its mother and it is not easy to find food. Therefore, the panda mother will choose the strongest one to raise.

As a panda mother can only take care of one offspring, the young panda will be driven off by its mother when it reaches about two years of age, and she will then begin to make a den for the arrival of the next cub. The young panda then has to fend for itself.

Qinling Wild Pandas

The Qinling Panda is a subspecies of giant panda. There are obvious differences between the Qinling giant pandas and the giant pandas in Sichuan. There are currently 273 Qinling pandas, about 17% of the number of pandas in Sichuan. The habitat of the Qinling Panda covers an area of 347,684 hectares.

Characteristics of Qinling Pandas

The Qinling pandas are overall smaller than the Sichuan pandas. Their skull is smaller and their teeth are larger. Their fur is brown and light brown compared with the black and white of Sichuan Giant Pandas. Their head is smaller and more round. Brown panda is very rare.

Habitats of Qinling Pandas

Qinling Pandas live in the Qinling Mountains with an elevation of 1300 – 3500 meters above sea level, where the weather is cool and humid. The Foping Giant Panda Natural Reserve has been established to protect the pandas who live in Qinling.

Giant pandas prefer a cool climate. They are not afraid of cold weather. They never hibernate. Even in the cold winter, they are still seen walking through the bamboo forest covered with thick snow. The dense bamboo forest in the Qingling Mountains makes it an ideal place for the giant panda to live.

Read more details on Wild Pandas

How to Get Close to Pandas

The best place to get close to giant pandas is in Sichuan, China. There are many panda bases in Sichuan where you can see pandas, take photos of them, or do the panda volunteer program. 

If you want to see pandas only,  the best place is the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center.

Read more on the best places to see pandas.

See Giant Pandas with China Travel?

Travel with us to join a Panda Keeper Program to get close to giant pandas. Book quickly as there are only 20-30 volunteers daily. 

You can also take our tours to see the pandas,  We can help you tailor-make a tour to meet your requirements, dates, and budget.

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