Before you come to China, you may hear of China's national
treasure: Giant Panda. Visitors to China can see this endangered animal in the
zoos of the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, etc. If you want to
have a very close look at the plump and lovely animal, you should better go to
the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in Chengdu. Here you will view them
eating, sleeping or playing which bring you great pleasure and delights.
Giant Pandas look like bear and have thick black and white fur with short tail. Their ears, legs, shoulders and fur around their eyes are black. The rest of the fur on their body is white.
Giant Pandas have good eyesight. They have strong jaws and teeth for chewing tough food. They have special bones like thumbs to help them holding their food.
Where do they live?
Giant Pandas only live in six small areas in China. They live in the mountain areas around the center and southwest of the country. They live high up in the mountains, in cool forests full of bamboo plants. The famous Chengdu Breeding Giant Panda Research is located on the mountain of Fu Tou. There are clouds, rain and mist throughout the year.
What do they eat?
Giant pandas are considered carnivores, but 99% of their food consists of bamboo. They prefer bamboo shoots. Since bamboo is low in nutrition, Giant Panda has to eat for 10 to 16 hours a day to stay fit and healthy.
Giant Panda's Life Span
Giant Pandas are very shy and like to live alone. The males and females only meet in late spring or early summer to mate. Three to five months later the female may give birth to one or two babies, called cubs, in a den in the ground. Usually only one of the cubs will live to become fully grown.
When giant panda cubs are born, they are very small and helpless. They cannot see and have little fur. The cubs drink their mother's milk for about six months. The cubs grow quite slowly. They can move around after three months. After about a year, they will go to live on their own. Giant Pandas live between 17 and 20 years in the wild.
How many wild giant pandas live now?
One hundred years ago there were large numbers of giant pandas in China. Now there are less than 700 of them in the wild, even though they were protected by law. Nowadays the giant pandas in China live mainly in 13 special protected areas, called reserves. The pandas can live safely in the reserves because people cannot hunt them.
Why the Giant Panda are in danger?
Giant pandas are in danger because their habitat is being destroyed. Forest areas are being cut down to make room for homes and factories. The trees are sold as wood for building and furniture.
Sometimes the bamboo plants come into flower which means that the pandas don't have food and they have to move out of their home to find food instead of starving.
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