Baby Panda Facts: How a Cute Bundle Grows Into a Cheeky Fluffball (Photos)

A baby panda at about 6 weeks old. (Screenshot/YouTube)
A baby panda at about 6 weeks old. (Screenshot/YouTube)

You probably already know that many baby pandas don’t make it past the first few months of their little lives, and can easily get sick.

The triplets that were born in China last year are now just over six months old, putting them well past the danger period. They are the first triplets to survive this long.

About 90% of cubs bred in captivity survive these days, whereas it was less than 30% in the 1960s.

Pandas often give birth to twins, but can only care properly for one baby. So in the wild, one cub won’t make it. However, staff at breeding centers support mother pandas by swapping out the extra cub or cubs, so they all get cared for.

Females only ovulate once a year in the spring, and are only fertile for 24 to 36 hours.

Birth

Mother pandas give birth between July and September, and the gestation period is less than 5 months, so newborn pandas are very small.

They are born blind and pink with almost no fur, and weigh about 0.2 pounds on average, which is only 1/900 of the mother’s weight. This is very different from human babies which are about 1/20 of the mother’s weight when born.

The smallest panda ever born was just 0.1 pounds, while the biggest was 0.5 pounds.

At this stage, the limbs are very weak so they have difficulty moving around. For the first two months, pretty much all they do is feed, sleep, poop, and mew.

Growing up

  • After 1 week, blackish fur begins to grow on the shoulders, around the eyes, and on the ears.
  • After 3 weeks, the cub has all its markings, and begins to crawl.
  • After 25 days, the black fur has spread over the neck and chest, and the dark eye circles are much bigger. Now, the white fur starts to grow, giving the cub its classic black and white features. The baby weighs about 4 pounds.

  • After 3 months, the legs are stronger, and the cub can stagger a few feet, but often falls over. It weighs between 11 and 13 pounds, and its hearing is much better.
  • After 4 months, the cub can run a few steps, and starts rolling around on the ground.

  • After 6 months, it starts to eat bamboo, and loves to play with mom. By now it’s springtime, and growth speeds up after this point, with males typically developing faster than females.
  • At 1 year old, the cub is usually weaned, but stays with mom for another six months or so, or less if she is pregnant. It now weighs up to 90 pounds.
Baby Yun Zi at San Diego Zoo. (fortherock/Wikimedia Commons)

Baby Yun Zi at San Diego Zoo. (fortherock/Wikimedia Commons)

 

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