Panda Facts for Kids
Have you taken some time to watch the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ animated movie? Then certainly, you will be interested in finding out more details about your favorite character Po.
The giant panda was once thought to be related to the raccoon until scientists discovered that it actually belongs to the bear family. The bear family is scientifically known as Ursidae. Although if you look at it closely, it is spectacled just like the raccoon and the body structures seem to resemble.
There is however another type of bear, the red panda that has its roots in the raccoon family.
Today we will discover some interesting facts about this beautiful animal. Ready to learn something new?
1. Pandas are found in China
These lovely mammals are only found in the wild of central China. They enjoy the mountainous and forests regions where you’ll find plenty of bamboo growth.
2. What do they look like
Giant pandas are black and white in color. They have characteristic large black patches around their eyes.
Fingers: Giant pandas have an extra finger to help them grasp bamboo stalks that they peel off to get to the edible juicy inside part of the bamboo.
Stomach: a thick layer of mucus covers their stomach so they are not pricked by bamboo splinters that make it to their stomach.
Teeth: Pandas have strong molar teeth. In fact, they have the largest molar teeth compared to other carnivores. On their lower jaw, they have one extra molar to help them chew bamboo stalks better.
Paws: they have wide paws with furry palms and long claws to help them when climbing and swimming. They are pretty good swimmers too.
Sense of Smell: Pandas have a strong sense of smell to mark their territories, stay away from other male territories and to locate sows. Their scent glands are found in their tails. Would this be the explanation behind them being lone rangers?
Fur: A panda’s fur is thick and stiff. I am not sure this is what you see at a distance. Did you know that under their fur their skin is patched too? It is black where there’s black fur and pink where there’s white fur.
Tail: These animals have the second longest tail in the animal kingdom after that of the sloth bear at 6inches.
3. Pandas are omnivorous
They feed on bamboo, probably why you’ll find them living in thick bamboo forests. When they are not on bamboo, they will be busy crunching into fish and small animals.
You will be surprised at their generous appetite. They can eat on and on for 12 hours, taking in up to 12kgs of bamboo.
Did you know that pandas sit up when they are eating?
4. Panda Cubs
At birth panda cubs are usually pink in color with no hair absolutely and totally blind up to the sixth to eighth week. They depend on their mother for cradling, feeding, everything.
Ever seen how mother bear cradles its tiny cubs? On one paw and close to the chest. I guess it’s always bonding time, as mother bear doesn’t leave her young ones at all for the first few days.
Female giant pandas produce young ones, usually one or two, after every two years in a bamboo nest. They have to take care of their cubs for the next 18 months before releasing them to independence.
Did you know that at 7 months panda cubs are good at tree climbing ?
Pandas actually climb up as high as 4000m to locate juicier bamboo to feed on.
5. How much does a fully grown giant panda weigh
They do grow to measure between 1.2 to 1.5 meters.
They are indeed heavy weights, weighing between 75kg and 150kgs. It is believed that they have a lifespan of between 20 and 30years.
6. What happens during winter
The giant pandas, unlike other animals do not hibernate during winter. They stick to the lower base of the mountain where it is a bit warmer and the munching doesn’t stop.
In case of extreme climate, they usually hide in caves or hollow trees to shield themselves.
In addition, they have a very thick coat that adapts them to such climate so you don’t expect them to feel that cold.
Pandas have an interesting sleep character. When it’s time to sleep, they literally just drop where they are and close their eyes to slumber.
The Differences between the male and the female panda
The male panda is known as a boar and the female a sow
7. What do people think about the bear’s white and black colors
Some think it is camouflage so they are not easily noticed in their habitats.
Others think the markings are useful for maintaining a stable temperature.
Still other people think that the markings help the male giant pandas respect each other’s territory.
Yet some other people imagine that the black spots on their eyes help pandas look bigger and hostile.
Which of these explanations do you think is true?
8. When was the first Panda Captured
Much as it is believed that the giant panda existed between two and three millions of years back, the first one was captured only a century ago, in November 1927.
This is what helped scientists find out from fossil records that the mammal existed way before.
9. They are a symbol
In the history of China, when different tribes used to fight, they could raise a flag with a picture of a panda on it signal that it was now time to call a truce.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has the panda in their logo since 1961 when it was founded.
10. Where did the name panda originate from
The Nepalese word Poonya is as close in pronunciation and meaning to the word panda as you can imagine.
Poonya means bamboo or plant eating animal. Does this define Panda? Yes it does.
Their scientific name Ailuropoda melanoleuca means black and white cat-foot.
Well, the Chinese call them Da Xiong Mao meaning Giant bear cat.
11. Pandas are Rated Endangered
Did you know that the giant panda is the rarest and the shyest of bears in the world?
Yet still, the Chinese and other poachers valued their beautifully colored pelts. According to the Chinese, the giant panda’s fur gave them some supernatural protection from evil. Because of poaching, the population of giant pandas reduced drastically to about 1000. The world wildlife Foundation stepped in, in the 1960s to prohibit their poaching.
Again, China has very high human population which means that Panda’s natural habitats are being cleared for farming and human settlement in addition to the dwindling of their bamboo feeds.
Today, giant pandas in China are natural treasures. You’ll hear them bleating, honking, roaring, growling, or even sneezing weirdly in their habitats if you happen to be there.