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Saturday, 11 June 2011

One Of The Shyest And Rarest Of Wild Animals

I have an enormous stuffed animal toy of one of the most beloved and recognized wild creatures that inhabit our planet, and I am sure that you will agree with me when you find out which animal I am talking about! The adorable black and white bear known as the Giant Panda Bear has always been so immensely popular due partially to its sweet, shy, and cuddly appearance.

Giant Pandas are the most distinctively marked of all bears because of their white fur, with black ears, eye patches, legs, feet, chest and shoulders. Adult Giant Pandas can grow up to a length of 1.2 to 1.8 meters and weigh as much as 150 kg (females are in general 10-20% smaller than males). Because they chew tough bamboo stalks for nourishment, they have extremely developed muscles around their jaw and large crushing molars, giving the head a round form. Giant Panda forepaws have a modified wrist bone that acts as a unique “sixth digit”’ which works kind of like a human “thumb”. This extra digit helps the Panda to grasp and consume bamboo stalks.

The Giant Pandas diet consists almost entirely of leaves, stems, and shoots of a variety of bamboo species – a diet so nutritionally poor that the Pandas must consume “huge quantities” each day, just to stay alive. They can consume between 30 to 40 pounds of the bamboo per day. Although they are too slow to catch most animals, they have been known to eat meat when the possibility arises.

The mating season, which is between March and May, is the only time Pandas come together. It is common to have one or sometimes two cubs in a litter (to have three is very rare), however only one will receive enough care from the mother to survive. The mother usually selects the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless. It is six to 7 inches long and weighs about 90 to 130 grams. It stays with its mother for 18 month to 2 years, until it is independent enough to establish its own territory.

Giant Pandas live only in the remote mountainous regions of China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Giant Pandas were once found in lowlands, but unfortunately human encroachment has had a severe impact on Giant Pandas survival, pushing them further and further away from where they once lived. These docile and reclusive creatures are on the endangered species list. Their ability to survive as a species is challenging. Habitat loss is the greatest cause of the giant panda's decline; other reasons are global warming and illegal poaching. Luckily, a lot of people around the planet are worried about their future. Educating people worldwide about the Giant Panda’s probable extinction has begun to pay off, and many realize that pandas may go extinct unless they find ways to help them, and soon!

The giant panda is considered to be China’s national treasure and has become a worldwide symbol of conservation.

For more information on pandas check out: Wikipedia

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