10 things to know about China’s symbolic animal

A national treasure of China, the panda is very popular all over the world. That is why the editors decided to pay close attention to this bear in a black and white fur coat. In this article, you will learn 10 things you need to know about the symbolic animal of the Middle Empire.

On August 2, two new inhabitants appeared at the Beauval Zoo (Loir-et-Cher): twin pandas with the sweet names Fleur de Coton and Little Nezh.

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On Sunday, August 14, another baby was born at the Singapore Zoo. The three babies have one thing in common: they are the result of artificial insemination. You may not know this, but pandas have trouble mating, and females only go into heat once a year.

As you may have already figured out, captive or wild births are quite rare! If you want to know more about this animal, you just need to read the following paragraphs.

The panda is endemic to China.

Photo credit: clkraus/Shutterstock

The giant panda is a bear endemic to central China. This bear lives mainly in the mountainous regions of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi. And the least we can say is that this animal does not have vertigo.

Indeed, it develops in mountain forests located at an altitude of 1800 to 3500 meters above sea level. In the past, pandas were often found in the south and east of the Celestial Empire.

Northern Vietnam and Myanmar (formerly Burma, editor’s note) also contained a few specimens. Due to habitat loss due to deforestation, mammals are unable to migrate and roam freely in the forest.

Panda is a solitary animal

Photo Credit: Illustrative Image

The giant panda has three passions: sleeping, eating and being alone. The national emblem of China is a single animal. In most cases, panda families do not live together.

Separated from its mother, the young panda seeks new territory. Males and females meet only during the mating season. The latter lasts from March to May.

If a panda uses its developed sense of smell to find a partner, then this same sense allows it to stay away from relatives.

Panda and bamboo: a great love story

Photo Credit: Illustrative Image

It’s common knowledge that the giant panda’s diet is 99% bamboo. The bicolor bear eats up to 20 kilograms of bamboo a day and spends about 14 hours chewing it.

He uses his opposing false thumb to pluck plant stems. This sixth finger also allows him to hold bamboo leaves and bring them to his mouth. Surprisingly, the panda does not digest these plants.

Indeed, this mammal belongs to the order of carnivores. He became a herbivore several million years ago after mutating a gene associated with the sense of taste. WITH, “his digestive system, typical of carnivores, never developed”, explains Disneynature.

In the wild, the panda also feeds on honey, green corn, or flowers.

Panda doesn’t hibernate

Photo Credit: Illustrative Image

It’s no secret that some species of bears, including the brown bear, hibernate or hibernate.

In winter, these carnivorous mammals can spend five to six months shut up in their dens. Contrary to what one might think, bears do not go into a lethargic state. In other words, they do not sleep well.

Indeed, they may venture outside their shelter if the weather permits. The hairballs do not feed, but use their fat reserves to survive.

For its part, the giant panda does not need to hide before winter. Faced with frost, the latter left his mountains to take refuge in warmer places.

The panda and the red panda do not belong to the same family.

Photo Credit: Illustrative Image

Indeed, the giant panda belongs to the bear family. The red panda is the last member of the Ailuridae family. The latter is a member of the mustelid superfamily (raccoon, skunk).

However, the two animals do have a few things in common, starting with their name. The panda and the red panda live high up in the mountain ranges of Asia. They feed on bamboo and take time to digest it. Both mammals are also sound sleepers.

Finally, the latter also have a characteristic unique to primates: the opposable thumb.

Panda and sex are incompatible

Photo Credit: Ocean Park Hong Kong.

As we mentioned above, pandas show no interest in sex. Typically, both male and female giant pandas reach sexual maturity at the age of seven to five years.

Breeding these mammals, whether in captivity or in the wild, is a difficult undertaking. It is difficult for the latter to mate because they do not want to or do not know how to do it.

In zoos, keepers go to great lengths to stimulate the animal’s libido, from applying feminine scents to bamboo or spreading mating pandas.

The lack of interest in mating has serious consequences for the conservation of the species. Zoos use artificial insemination to maximize the chances of pregnancy.

We remind you that the female can only be fertilized 24 to 48 hours a year. She can give birth to one or two cubs a year. The latter usually indicate the tip of the nose in August.

Panda can be borrowed by China

Photo Credit: Illustrative Image

“Panda diplomacy” is a method used by China. It consists of borrowing a giant panda to start diplomatic relations with a new country.

The Celestial Empire “offered” samples to Canada, South Korea, Japan, the USA and France:

The first panda was given to President Khrushchev in 1965, then US President Nixon made a state visit in 1972 and was given one “, environmentalist Paul Jepson explained to Franceinfo.

Today, some countries spend money lavishly in order to be able to rent China’s national treasure. Price? Renting pandas costs about 800,000 euros per year, not including food costs.

A panda can live over 30 years in captivity

Photo credit: lzf/Shutterstock

In the wild, the life span of a panda ranges from 15 to 20 years. No wonder bears live longer in captivity. The latter can reach 30 years of age and even more.

The longest living record is attributed to Jia Jia, a female panda who lived in L’Ocean Park in Hong Kong. The bear died in 2016 at the age of 38 after being euthanized. The latter suffered from serious health problems: hypertension, arthritis and cataracts.

Jia Jia was born in the wild in Sichuan. She was a proud mother of 16 kids.

tiny panda cub

Photo courtesy of AFP.

At birth, a panda cub is as light as a feather: on average, it weighs 100 grams. Larger ones can weigh up to 50 grams more. Other facts: the baby is blind, and his pink skin is covered with sparse hairs.

The newborn will spend the first two months of his life breastfeeding his mother and staying close to her as he is very weak. Indeed, he can neither move nor stand.

Black hair begins to appear seven days after birth. They are located at the tips of the eyes, around the eyes and on the shoulders. At around the age of four months, a panda cub takes its first steps with its mother.

The young are weaned when they reach their first birthday. They still stay close to their parent for the next 12 months. During this time, they gain weight and become stronger. Males grow faster than females.

The panda is no longer considered an endangered species.

Photo: Nicola Borrani / Shutterstock

For twenty years now, China has not skimped on funds to protect the giant panda from extinction. And the least we can say is that this defensive policy has paid off.

Today, the giant panda is no longer considered an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

The Chinese authorities have made decisions to improve the living conditions of bears: bamboo plantations, help in reproduction or even preservation of their natural habitat.

The country is home to about 1800 individuals living in the wild. Finally, the number of giant pandas living in captivity in the world reached 633 in 2020. It is at the age of four that the panda reaches its final size. At this stage, it can weigh up to 150 kg.

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