Here's What You Should Know About Pandas

Here's What You Should Know About Pandas
Here's What You Should Know About Pandas

Severely threatened by humans, the panda is one of the most protected species in the world, most notably in China, its natural home. However, its limited food sources and low rate of reproduction mean that the odds are against them.

A solitary creature, the panda is found in the wild only in China, where they live in the immense bamboo forests. The panda is considered a carnivore because it has the digestive system of a meat-eater, however it feeds almost exclusively on bamboo (around 99% of its diet).

For years, the panda's natural territory has been broken up by humans building homes and this has made reproduction even more difficult. Pandas reach sexual maturity relatively late at around 5 or 6 years old and females are only fertile for a few days per year. A female will only give birth to one or two babies and never more because they don't have the energy to deal with a larger brood.

Pandas are very highly-protected in China. Until 2010, killing a panda was punishable by death. Today it is punished by a prison sentence. Many pandas are raised in captivity in an effort to boost numbers.

In 2016, giant pandas were downgraded from 'Endangered' to 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), meaning that their numbers have grown enough to consider them one step further away from extinction.

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