Scientific name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca (literally meaning "cat-foot black-and-white")
Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average lifespan in the wild: 20 years
Conservation status: Endangered

A low birth rate of both wild and captive pandas contributes to the endangered status of these amazing bears. Pandas have a very short pregnancy of five months, but their current reproductive rate is considered to be one young every two years. Panda cubs are born blind and cannot crawl until they are three months old, making them very vulnerable. A lot is still unknown about the giant panda, and breeding programmes have been set up to try and protect them from extinction.

Giant panda are elusive, shy and incredibly rare. Most of what we know about these mammals comes from studies of them in captivity - very few are ever seen in the wild. Dwelling in the bamboo forests in the mountainous regions of central China, a panda spends half of its time eating. This is not surprising considering a typical panda must eat around 12.5kg of bamboo a day to meet its daily nutritional needs. The panda's diet is made up of around 99% bamboo. Other things they occasionally eat include other plants, rodents and birds. Panda's have the same digestive system as a carnivore but they have adapted to eating a mainly vegetarian diet.

Did you know?

• A panda cub is 1/900th the size of its mother, one of the smallest newborn mammals relative to its mother's size.

• Males are 10 to 20 per cent larger than females.

• Giant pandas have the second largest tail in the bear family.

• Cubs are born white and develop their colouring later on.

• Giant pandas are one of the rarest animals in the world. There are only around 1,600 left in the wild.


Polar Bear Facts

Dutiful mothers, female polar bears usually give birth to twin cubs, which stay with her for more than two years until they can hunt and survive on their own.Photograph by Norbert Rosing

1.Polar Bears are the most recent of the eight species of bears, probably having evolved from brown bears around 200,000 years ago. 

2.Polar bears are so well insulated that they have to move slowly to avoid overheating.

3.Polar bears are the world's largest land predators. The largest polar bear recorded is 1,002 kg (2,210 lb).

4.Their maximum running speed is 40 kph (25 mph), but polar bears quickly overheat when they run, and therefore do it rarely.

5.Polar bears use a combination of body language and vocalizations to communicate. For example, head wagging from side to side often occurs when polar bears want to play.

6.In winter, polar bears clean themselves with snow instead of water. They rub their head in the snow, push forward on their stomachs, and roll on their back.

7.Female polar bears usually give birth to five litters during their life span.

8.Adult polar bears need an average of 2 kg (4.4 lb.) of fat per day to maintain their weight.

9.Ian Stirling, one of Canada’s leading polar bear researchers, estimates that the bears have become 10% thinner over the past two decades.

10.The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 8 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline; global warming is their most significant threat.

Polar Bears International
National Geographic Polar Bear Aware
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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