All About Giant Pandas
Distribution & Habitat
Giant Pandas used to range throughout southern and eastern China, Myanmar and north Vietnam. Today they live in six major mountains ranges: the Qinling Mountains in Shaan’xi province, Minshan Mountains in Sichuan and Gansu Province, Qionglai Mountains, Daxiangling Mountains, Xiaoxiangling Mountains and Liangshan Mountains in Sichuan Province.
The total area of Giant Pandas habitat is about 23,000 square kilometers. There are approximately 1600 Giant Pandas living in the wild.
Giant Pandas prefer flat gully ends, river valley terraces and gentle slopes which are quiet, close to water and have abundant food.
Description & Behaviour
Giant Pandas are easily recognisable by their typical bear-like body shape and the distinctive black and white markings. Unlike all other bear species the Giant Panda does not hibernate but they often relocate to lower altitudes in the winter and spring.
They have an elongated wrist bone that acts like a thumb to help them grasp food firmly. They possess huge molar teeth and powerful jaw muscles to break the woody parts of bamboo and chewing the stem, culms and leaves.
Giant Pandas are generally solitary, but they do communicate periodically through scent marks, calls, and occasional meetings. Their home territory varies according to age and sex, but usually ranges from 4-7km2.
They are very accomplished tree climbers, and often spend many hours resting in trees. Adults will usually sleep wherever they stop, but to lean back on something such as a big tree or fallen trunk.
Wild pandas are solitary by nature. If we allowed our to stay together, they might develop sibling type relationship and not breed, so to maintain natural behaviour Funi and Wang Wang are kept in separate enclosures outside breeding season.
Wild female Giant Pandas are sexually mature at the age of 5.5 -6.5 years and wild males at 6 –7 years. They may mature earlier in captivity due to better living conditions and nutrition.
Female only enter oestrus once a year. After a gestation period of around 5 months, Giant Pandas usually give birth to one or two cubs, who measure around 15 -17cm long and weigh between 36-296g (about 1/993 of their mother’s weight!). Cubs first open their eyes when they are around 40 days old and it takes around 2 months for them to develop their distinctive black and white coat.
After mating, the male does not play a role in raising the young.
Wang Wang and Funi are a genetically important pairing and we hope they will breed successfully here at Adelaide Zoo and contribute to the survival of a genetically diverse population of Giant Pandas.
Everything an animal does requires energy.
Like all bear species, the Giant Panda is a natural meat eater. However this unique bear has adapted to live on an almost solely vegetarian diet. Giant Pandas have an elongated wrist bone on their front feet that helps them grasp bamboo firmly.
99% of the Giant Pandas diet is bamboo. Only 1% of their diet is other vegetable or meat from small animals they have scavenged or killed.
As nutrition level of bamboo is low, Giant Pandas:
- Eat huge amounts
- When available, take tender parts which have more nutrition and less fibre
- Feed on protein-rich remains of animal bodies when available
- Use as little energy as possible
To meet the dietary requirements of our Giant Pandas, Adelaide Zoo has an extensive 14 hectare browse plantation at Bolivar.
60 - 125kg
Did you know...?
- There are only about 1600 Giant Pandas still living in the wild.
- Giant Pandas consume about 20kg of bamboo stems, 10 -14kg of bamboo leaves, or about 40kg of bamboo shoots every day!
- Giant Pandas are part of the Ursidae (bear) family but they separated from the other bear species at a much earlier period in evolution.
- The Giant Panda was first discovered by the western world on March 11 1869 by a French missionary and naturalist named Père Armand David.
- In China, the Giant Panda is a symbol for peace and harmony.
- A Giant Panda, Jing Jing, was one of the mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
- WWF adopted the Giant Panda as its symbol of conservation in 1961