Facts about pandas (panda bears)

Random facts about panda bears

1. Names: The panda is also known as the Bamboo Bear, Giant Panda or the Great Panda

2. Winter hibernation: Pandas don’t hibernate because their diet – which consists of 99% of bamboo and 1% of insects on bamboo and meat they find – doesn’t allow them to build up the energy reserves (i.e. fat) required to stay alive in hibernation all winter

3. Skin color: Panda skin is black where the fur is black and pink where the fur is white

4. Run: Unlike most other bear species, pandas are very slow runners. The fastest bear is the American black bear, which can run up to 64 km/h!

5. The red panda: The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is also known as the lesser panda or cat bear. The red panda and the giant panda live in the same areas and eat the same food, and both animals are endangered. The red panda was previously classified as a half-bear (like raccoons, for example), but is now placed in its own family Ailuridae. The red panda is thus not related to the giant panda, as the latter belongs to the bear family Ursidae

Fakta: Den store panda og Den røde panda er ikke beslægtede
Attribution: J. Patrick Fischer + Greg Hume – Wikipedia.org

Fact: The Giant Panda (top) is not related to the Red Panda (bottom), although the two live in the same area, eat the same diet and both are endangered

6. Size: An adult panda weighs 75 – 160 kg and measures approximately 60 – 90 cm at shoulder height and 1.2 – 1.8 meters in length. Males are approximately 10 – 20% larger than females (only females can weigh up to 75 kg and only males up to 160 kg)

7. Heavy bones: Pandas can stand upright, but their short hind legs are not strong enough to support their entire body weight. A panda’s bones are twice as heavy as the bones of other animals of the same size

8. Teeth: Pandas, like humans, have two sets of teeth in their lifetime; baby teeth and adult teeth

9. No enemies: Adult pandas are so large that they have no natural enemies (i.e. predators that will eat them). However, snow leopards may attack panda cubs or sick adult pandas

10. Ancestor: Pandas are descended from the extinct Ailurarctos, which was anatomically a mix of a cat and a bear and lived in China around 8 million years ago


  • Pandapar: For a panda pair to have cubs, they need 28,500 m2 of land. A single panda needs 6,500 – 10,500 m2 to survive
  • Ovulation: Female pandas only ovulate once a year and are only fertile 2-3 days per year
  • Captivity: Captive pandas lose interest in reproducing, making it difficult to increase the population. Scientists therefore mated pandas using artificial insemination at first. Later on, more extreme methods were tried: showing the pandas movies of pandas mating and giving male pandas Viagra. Only recently has there been success with a natural breeding program that produces one cub every two years (per mother)
  • After mating: Once mating is complete, the future panda mother chases all males out of her territory and raises the cubs on her own
  • Pregnancy: The gestation period lasts 97-163 days. The big difference in duration is due to the fact that the panda fetus only grows if the mother receives sufficient food during gestation. Once the fetus starts its development, it takes 45-60 days before it is born
  • Birth: Panda cubs are usually born in August or September. They are typically 15-17 cm long and weigh 90 – 200 grams, which is equivalent to 1/800 – 1/900 of the mother’s weight. The panda thus has the smallest baby of all mammals that have a uterus. When the cubs are born, they are pink, blind and toothless
  • The eye patch: When a baby panda is born, the black spots around the eyes are round. As the panda grows, the spots gradually become more and more teardrop-shaped
  • Furless: Pandas and polar bears are the only bears born without fur
  • Twins: Panda mothers are more likely to give birth to twins in the wild than in captivity
  • Survival rate: More than half of all newborn panda cubs die from disease or because they are accidentally crushed to death by their mothers
  • Gender maturity: Pandas reach sexual maturity at 4-8 years old and remain sexually mature until they are about 20 years old. Because panda cubs stay with their mothers until they are 2-3 years old, mothers can have a maximum of 3-4 cubs (litters) in their lifetime
  • Age: In the wild, pandas typically live to around 20 years old. In captivity, they can live up to 30 years


Panda’s broom

  • Thumb: Panda bears have an extra “thumb”, which is actually an extra large sesame bone. The thumb is specially designed to hold bamboo, which makes up 99% of their diet (the rest is insects and meat)
  • Poor digestion: Because the panda’s digestive system is designed to digest meat – and not plants – it can’t digest its diet properly. It only absorbs around 20 – 30% of the nutrients in the bamboo, resulting in an adult panda producing around 28 kg of feces per day!
  • Bamboo: A panda bear can eat up to 45 kg of bamboo per day (only in spring) and spends around 14-16 hours a day eating. An adult panda can also peel and eat a bamboo shoot in about 40 seconds
  • Bamboo species: There are around 300 species of bamboo in China. Of these, around 25 are found in the areas where pandas live. Out of these, pandas have 3 favorite species
  • Single people: In the wild, pandas are rarely seen in close proximity to each other, which is because they can’t survive if they have to compete for food


Pandas and humans

  • Endangered animals: The panda has been an endangered species since 1990. The main threats to pandas are poaching and habitat reduction
  • Extinction: Pandas are close to extinction, with only about 1,000 panda bears left in the world. Scientists hope to increase the panda population to around 5,000 by 2025
  • Fur: A panda fur coat can sell for 60,000-100,000 dollars on the black market
  • The zoo: Keeping a panda in a zoo is expensive; it costs about 5 times as much as keeping the next most expensive animal, the elephant
  • Penalty: It has been illegal to kill pandas in China since the 1960s, but the law was not strictly enforced in practice. In 1987, the law was tightened and the penalty was increased from 2 years in prison to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Today, the punishment is somewhat more lenient: 10-20 years in prison
  • Symbolism: In Chinese culture, the panda represents peace and harmony, with its black and white colors and calm behavior reflecting the two universal opposing forces: Ying and Yang. Until about 100 years ago, Chinese clans also used panda flags to signal peace or truce to each other. Today, the World Wildlife Fund WWF also uses the panda in their logo