The giant panda is a large animal with long, thick woolly-looking white fur, though its legs, shoulders, ears and eye areas have black fur. Its tail is wide and short. The giant panda lives in the bamboo forests of central China at altitudes between 1,500 and 3,000 m.
The so-called false thumb of the panda is well-known, but it is actually a highly developed radial sesamoid bone that forms a kind of sixth finger opposable to the other five. Thanks to this evolution, the giant panda can handle and grasp objects with some skill, objects as small as the bamboo stalks that form the main part of its diet. In addition to bamboo, it also feeds on bulbs, roots, eggs and some small mammals.
The panda is accustomed to solitude. The sexes only meet during mating season. Then, the growls of the males can be heard as they compete with each other to mate with a receptive female. Mating takes place in spring and the young are born in late winter. The female gives birth to one or two cubs, which will reach their sexual maturity in four to ten years.
The giant panda bear is considered a threatened species and the Chinese government is carrying out various projects for its protection.
Baby pandas are born defenseless, so they require a lot of maternal care during their first months of life. The mortality rate is very high during this time, which is a serious problem for population recovery by breeding in captivity. Reproduction takes place between the months of March and May, after a gestation of three to six months. The cub's birth weight can range from 85 to 140 grams. Sometimes two cubs are born but only one survives. Wild pandas birth a cub once every two years or more.
Pandas do not hibernate. On the other hand, the eating habits of the giant panda are another problem when it comes to breeding and caring for them in captivity. The panda feeds almost exclusively on bamboo, which is not very nutritious, and also only flourishes in certain periods, wilting shortly afterward, which sometimes leads to these animals going hungry.
The giant panda is an endangered species and the Chinese government is implementing various projects for its protection. The panda's disappearance is almost imminent. Even though some have been bred in captivity for many years, they have not been able to reproduce quickly. Because the panda is an animal in danger of extinction, some have been kept in captivity, grouping the male and female in one place to achieve their reproduction, avoiding more males gathering and therefore ruling out fights between them. Despite these efforts, there are only 1000 giant pandas left in the world. In other times, they were simply killed without pity.