The Giant Panda: Nature in Focus
Fluffy, cute, adorable… there is no shortage of flattering attributes to speak about the Giant Panda.
Originally found in China, Vietnam and Myanmar, their habitat is now restricted to 6 mountain ranges in China.
Legend has it that the Giant Panda was once fully white. Until one day four young girls saved a Giant Panda from the claws of a leopard and gave their lives instead. Giant Pandas came to their funeral wearing black armbands as a sign of respect. As the emotion grew and the pandas wiped their tears off, hugged each other and covered their ears to silence the cries, they smudged the black dye of their armbands. They were soon all covered with black marks and swore to keep them as a permanent reminder of the girls’ sacrifice.
On the other hand, some scientists believe that the Giant Panda evolved with this unique fur pattern to allow them to blend into the very different habitats they live in. Giant Pandas’ diet is made off at 99% of bamboo which isn’t very rich in nutrients. They therefore cannot build up enough fat reserves to hibernate during winter and must move through snowy mountains and thick forests. The debate however remains very much open!
Baby Pandas are anything but giant at birth. In fact, they’ve been compared in size to a stick of butter. Their mothers are 900 times bigger than them! They’ll quickly earn their name though. Within a year, they’ll weight up to 100 pounds and can grow up to 350 pounds as adults.
A conservation icon and WWF star animal, Giant Pandas made the headlines last year for their remarkable recovery. Now off the endangered list, they are looking at a much brighter future. But (and yes, there is always a but…) they remain on the vulnerable list of global species and are not quite out of the woods just yet. And so, efforts must continue, now more than ever.
Go on the Panda Volunteer Experience and help write the next chapter of this incredible conservation success story!