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Fun Facts About Pandas

  • Pandas have been a symbol of peace in China. For example, hundreds of years ago, warring tribes in China would raise a flag with a picture of a panda on it to stop a battle or call a truce.f
  • According to legend, the panda was once an all-white bear. When a small girl tried to save a panda cub from being attacked by a leopard, the leopard killed the girl instead. Pandas came to her funeral wearing armbands of black ashes. As they wiped their eyes, hugged each other, and covered the ears, they smudged the black ashes.h

  • Female pandas ovulate only once a year. They are fertile only two or three days of the year.c
  • Giant panda cubs are usually born in August or September and are the size of a stick of butter. A cub has pink skin, a thin coat of white fur, a long tail, and no teeth. Its eyes are closed. By the end of the first month, the baby panda has all of its spots. Its eyes open around 4-6 weeks. A baby panda is almost 2 months old before it is the size of an average human newborn baby. A baby is almost 2 years old when it leaves its mother.d
  • Mother pandas in captivity give birth to twins more often than mothers in the wild do.b
  • More than half of newborn pandas die from diseases or from being accidentally crushed by their mothers.e
  • Young pandas stay with the mothers for as long as three years, which means that a wild panda may raise only three or four cubs in a lifetime.a
  • The panda spends 14-16 hours a day eating bamboo.d

  • Scientists are unsure why the giant panda has the markings it has. Some biologists believe the panda’s colors are camouflage of light and dark to help the panda hide in the shadows in a bamboo forest. Other scientists believe the black and white markings help the panda keep a steady temperature, or that the colors help the giant panda avoid other pandas. Still other biologists believe that the panda’s large black eyespots make their eyes look bigger and their stare more aggressive.b

    The panda’s round head is due to powerful jaw muscles

  • A giant panda’s face is cute, but it is not chubby. It gets its shape from massive cheek muscles. In fact, a giant panda’s jaw and cheek muscles are so powerful that a panda can easily chew an aluminum dish into tiny pieces. They can also easily bite through a thick bamboo stalk. Humans have trouble cutting the same stalk with an ax.b

Richard Nixon received two giant pandas as gifts from China

  • After Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, he received two pandas from the Chinese leader, Chairman Mao. The two pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were placed in the National Zoo in Washington D.C. More than 1 million people visited them during their first year there. Nixon was the first U.S. president to ever visit China.f
  • A panda’s entire mating process takes only about two or three days. Once they have mated, females chase the males out of their territory and raise their cubs on their own.a

a Allen, Kathy. 2011. Giant Pandas in a Shrinking Forest: A Cause and Effect Investigation. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
b Dudley, Karen. 1997. Giant Pandas. Austin, TX: Weigl Educational Publishers Limited.
c Firestone, Mary. 2012. Top 50 Reasons to Care about Pandas. Berkeley Heights. NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
d Kueffner, Susan. 2009. Amazing Animals: Pandas. Pleasantville, NY: Gareth Stevens Publishing.
e Penny, Malcolm. 2000. Natural World: Giant Panda. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaugn.
f Presnall, Judith Janda. 1998. The Giant Panda. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.
g O’Connor, Noelle King. “A Quest for Pandas in Chinese Art.” Zoogoer.  April 1992. Accessed: August 28, 2012.
h Schaller, George B. 1994. The Last Panda. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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