Giant Panda Bear: Giant Panda Pictures and Facts
The Giant Panda bear is an icon of endangered species and is probably the most recognizable and adorable wild animal. Years of conservation efforts are starting to pay and the giant panda bear, although still in great danger of extinction, may just survive human stupidity, greed and carelessness.
Intro picture: Giant Panda Bear, Mother and Baby
Native to central- and southwestern China, the giant panda bear is a uniquely astounding mammal. It is one of the most instantly recognizable animals in the world, thanks to the distinctive black marking around its eyes and its huge, ambling physique. Even though it belongs to the class of animal known as carnivores or meat eaters, Pandas rely solely on a diet of bamboo shoots and leaves, occasionally supplementing it with other forms of vegetation, roots and tubers. This seems impossible since their massive, 300 – 350 lb. average size belies their status of “vegetarian”. They eat prodigious quantities of bamboo and spend a large part of their waking hours foraging for food. Their low metabolism and slow lifestyle enables them to draw sustenance from this low-in-nutrients source, though they are known to feed on small animals and birds from time to time.
The giant panda bear is an endangered species, dwindling at an alarming rate and is heavily dependent on conservation efforts to survive. As a species, it has a very low birthrate and only one out of ten cubs make it to adulthood. A nursing female can only look after a single cub and abandons the others to die in the wilderness. Driven out from its original, lowlands habitat, deforestation and urbanization has forced the panda to move higher up into the mountain ranges where food sources are scarce and conditions are tough. This has resulted in their numbers plummeting alarmingly: a study carried out in 2007 concluded that the total number of living giant panda bears in the wild was around 2 – 3000 with another 300 living in captivity, around one-third of that outside of China.
The Chinese Government appears to address the issue far more seriously than it did a few decades ago. Strict laws to deter the hunting and smuggling of pandas are in place with harsh penalties for offenders. Since panda pelts are highly sought after by furriers and collectors, the black market did a brisk trade in them under the radar. New gun control laws and harsh penalties including fines and imprisonment have deterred poachers and traffickers, allowing the giant panda to breathe a sigh of relief.
Animal rights activists, conservation experts, scientists as well as the Government of China have been working tirelessly to prevent this magnificent species from going extinct. Special sanctuaries have been set up to provide them with conditions found in their natural habitat. These reserves and sanctuaries have rapidly risen in number to around 40 from the original 13 established in the early 80’s, a safe haven for pandas. Abandoned at birth cubs are rescued and brought in to be raised by surrogates. Successful attempts at artificial insemination probably means the giant panda will probably survive extinction that was apparently imminent not too long ago.