No doubt that the giant panda is the most recognizable of world symbols. Pandas are black and white at the same time, and they’re from Asia! The global giant panda population has been on the rise in recent years, with a total estimated population of 2,060 pandas in 2015, up from 1,596 in 2004, according to a recent IUCN report.
The IUCN reported the giant panda population has improved enough for its status to be downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable.” Being on the brink of extinction, these gentle giants received a lot of help from various organizations to boost their population numbers.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is one of those organizations that lead in the conservation of pandas. The organization is also focused on creating a reality where humans and wildlife flourish and live in harmony together. With the panda representing a symbol of hope, WWF has adapted it as its iconic logo.
Another great contributor in the fight to save the giant panda is its home country, China. The country genuinely understands the panda crisis and has made major strides to protect its natural habitats, ensuring a steady growth of pandas in the wild. With a strong sense of dedication to the cause, China also made poaching illegal many years ago.
Along with conservation efforts and laws, the Chinese government also provides specific guidelines for the care and nurturing of pandas in captivity, making sure that no unforeseen events happen during breeding and the care of offspring.
Still not convinced about the panda’s cuteness? Here are some cute facts about our furry friend:
Why is a panda black and white?
According to legend, pandas were once all white. However, when a little girl was saving a panda cub from a leopard, the beast killed her. As a sign of grief, several pandas went to the little girl’s wake wearing armbands smeared with black ashes. As the pandas wiped their tears, hugged each other, and covered their ears, they smudged the ashes unto themselves.
A global peace symbol
In the past, when wars were frequent in China, troops would often paint panda faces on white flags to signify that they wanted to surrender or have a meeting.
The eyespots of panda cubs are initially circular in shape. When a young panda reaches maturity, they become shaped like a teardrop.
The giant panda’s diet is 99 percent bamboo. The shoots and leaves are their favorite part of the plant, and they can spend up to 14-16 hours eating a day. Although pandas are dependent on bamboo, they occasionally hunt pikas and other small animals.
Pandas have occasionally been seen playing, rolling, and tumbling down small slopes. It could be that they are removing twigs and thorns on their fur, or just having a good time.
Pandas cubs are one of the smallest newborn mammals. Cubs have pink skin, a long tail, and no teeth. They begin to develop their spots within a month. Pandas are usually born around August and September, and when fully grown, they can reach 200-300 pounds (90-130 kg) in weight.
The lifespan of a wild panda is usually around 20 years. In captivity, they can live 25-30 years. Panda cubs leave their mothers when they are about 3 years old.
Pandas can poop 40 times a day. Excessive pooping is caused by bamboo, which has little nutritional value, so the panda has to constantly excrete the bamboo pulp.
Pandas are no doubt the world’s friendliest symbol. Whenever someone sees a panda, especially children, a warm and cozy feeling embraces them. Although fun to look at, pandas remain on the brink of extinction.
Many conservation groups, such as the WWF, are helping in increasing the panda’s numbers in the wild and in captivity. An exponential growth of 17 percent is proof of their efforts.
Still, for the next generation to appreciate these wonderful animals, the world needs to remain united in its conservation efforts. A terrible fate still may fall on the children of the future if their only images of pandas are found in a book and they fail to appreciate the majestic beauty of witnessing giant pandas and similar creatures.
Sharon Reyer currently lives in Michigan where she is continually learning about culture and society. Sharon also researches car accident cases while learning about entrepreneurship and technology. In her free time, she makes it a point to share interesting information with her readers.