Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
- The most endangered of the eight species of bear. With only around 1,600 remaining in the wild they are verging on extinction.
- Life span in the wild is around 25-30 years.
- Greatest threat is deforestation of their bamboo habitat to create agricultural land.
- Despite severe penalties, some poaching still takes place. One panda can sell for up to $100,000. The death penalty is still in existence for poaching the Giant Panda.
- There are over 200 pandas in captivity but sadly they don’t breed well in these conditions.
- Often zoos ‘rent’ pandas to attract visitors.
- Pandas have six digits on their front paws, the extra digit developed from its wrist bone and is used to help the bear grasp bamboo shoots.
- They often spend a lot of time on the ground but climb well and often sleep in trees.
- Currently, pandas are only found in six small remote areas of China.
- Panda cubs stay with their mother for around 18 months.
- The Giant Panda was not officially considered a bear until 1995. It was argued for a long time that the panda was closer to the raccoon family than the bear family. However, blood protein tests have now confirmed that the panda definitely belongs to the bear family.
- CITES Appendix 1.