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Giant Panda

Giant Panda
Photographer: Aaron Logan

Giant Panda Range Map (China)
Giant Panda Range Map (China)

Young Giant Panda
Young Giant Panda

Latin Name Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Conservation Status Endangered
Location South West China
Colour Black & White
Length 1.6 - 1.9 m (5.25 - 6.25 ft)
Tail 10 - 15 cm (4 - 6 inches)
Weight 70 - 125 Kgs (155 - 280 lbs)
Life Expectancy

25 - 30 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Giant Pandas have very distinctive black and white markings. They have black eye patches, ears, shoulders, chest, legs and feet, and the rest of their body is white. Their fur is dense and they are heavily built with a large head and round ears.

They have a body length between 1.6 and 1.9 m (5.25 - 6.25 ft), a tail length between 10 and 15 cms (4 - 6 inches) and they weigh between 70 and 125 Kgs (155 - 280 lbs).

They are able to handle bamboo with great dexterity due to their unusual paw. Their sesamoid bone in their wrist is modified, which projects as a false "thumb". In addition to this they also have 5 "fingers" which enables them to be very efficient.


Giant Pandas have the most restricted distribution of all bear species. They are only found in bamboo thickets, at altitudes of between 1200 and 3500 m, in the mountainous regions of South West China.

They are solitary creatures except during the mating season and mothers with cubs. They have much smaller territories than most bears, the territory of females being 4 - 6.5 Kms (2.5 - 4 miles). The male territories are larger and they overlap those of several females.


30 species of bamboo make up approximately 99% of their diet. They will also eat other plants, meat , fish and eggs if they are available.

Giant Pandas need an enormous amount of bamboo each day to match their energy requirements, as their digestion of it is inefficient. They can eat up to 38 Kgs (84 lbs) per 24 hour period.


Mating is usually from March to May and after an average gestation period of 135 days, 1 - 2 cubs are born between August and September. Occasionally 3 - 4 cubs are born but it is rare for more than 1 to survive to adulthood.

The cubs are born blind, helpless, with a thin layer of fur and weighing 90 - 130 g (3.2 - 4.6 oz). They are able to crawl around after 75 - 90 days and at 6 months they can eat small quantities of bamboo, although their mother's milk is still their main source of nutrition during their first year.

They stay with their mother for 1.5 - 2 years and they reach sexual maturity after 5 - 7 years. Their reproductive success is low in captivity and it probably also is in the wild.


Humans are the main predators of Giant Pandas, but leopards will also prey upon young cubs.


There are no subspecies of Giant Panda.

Interesting Facts

The Giant Panda is instantly recognizable as the symbol of the World Wide Fund for nature.

Similar Animals

Brown Bear
Polar Bear
Sun Bear
Sloth Bear
Spectacled Bear
Asiatic Black Bear
American Black Bear


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