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Transcript of Giant Pandas
In the wild, female pandas weigh about 200 pounds. Males weigh up to 240 pounds. They weigh more in zoos because they are less active. They could weigh up to 300 or more pounds. Giant pandas can live to be 25 to 30 years old.
Giant panda's eyes have long narrow pupils like cats do. This means they can see well in the dark. They have good up and down vision, as well. Giant pandas also have a great sense of smell.
Mating season is in the spring. Giant pandas will make all kinds of noises to find a mate including barking, yipping, and even mooing. Males also follow a female's scent marks. If a female isn't ready to mate, she will swat at the male or bite his nose. After mating, pandas go off on their own.
Giant pandas live where they can find bamboo, high in the mountains of southwest China. Years and years ago, pandas lived in other parts of China, but bamboo stopped growing in these areas due to climate changes. The pandas moved higher into the hills where it was moist and great for bamboo growth. In recent years, the giant pandas moved even higher into the mountains because humans started to take their land. This is the only place now where they live. Other unusual animals live there too, including gorals , talkins, rare golden monkeys, pikas and many others. The temperature changes with the seasons.
Pandas use their fantastic sense of smell to discover messages from one other. They will rub their backside against a tree, leaving a sticky liquid. Other pandas may sniff this odor and it will tell them that the first panda was there, how long ago, and the panda's gender. This is called "scent marking." They use scent marking to communicate with each other all year round.
Panda cubs are born in late summer or early autumn. Female pandas will find a protective place to give birth such as a cave or hollow tree. When cubs are born, they are extremely tiny, are pink, and have a few hairs. The mother will lick the cub clean. The cub will drink its mother's milk. If a mother has two cubs, she will most likely take care of the stronger one and let the weaker one die. When she leaves the cave, the mother carries the cub in her mouth and gives it lots of attention.
The cub begins to get black and white markings after a week, and its fur is grown completely in a month. In five to six weeks, the cub's eyes open and it learns to crawl. The mother transports the cub in her fore-paw and walks on three legs when she looks for food. After ten weeks, the cub can take some steps and stand. The cub grows rapidly, and in three months, the cub is two feet long and weighs nearly 12 pounds. In five months, the cub can trot by its mother and begin to eat bamboo. It keeps drinking its mother's milk until it's eight or nine months old.
Pandas mostly live in a "range" by themselves which can measure one and a half to four square miles. Ranges can overlap, so it is possible that some pandas may share land.
A panda's fur is stiff and waterproof. Its eye patches, small rounded ears, short legs, and shoulder bands all have black coloring. This pigmentation is great camouflage. When a panda sees an enemy, it will climb a tree and squat on a branch. Its black features blend in with the tree's trunk, and its white features blend with the light sky.
The panda takes pigeon-toed steps and walks slowly. Its fastest pace is an awkward trot. They are excellent tree climbers and get away from predators this way.
How They Move
Pandas mostly eat bamboo and other plants. A panda has a carnivore's gut and a plant-eater's diet. Its ancestors ate meat but their food supply decreased so they began to eat bamboo instead. It's digestive system did not evolve as the panda did. Pandas will sometimes eat meat such as a small mammal. It is still considered to be a carnivore even though it mostly eats plants. It will also eat flowers such as crocuses or irises.
Pandas have a better chance of surviving in the wild, so it is best to let them stay there. Few zoos have pandas. If zoos have pandas, they are very well cared for.
In China, panda reserves have been created to protect them. A research center and breeding station exist in the Wolong Reserve in China. A two year jail sentence is given to any person who kills a giant panda. Rewards are given to people who save them.
Giant pandas have been given as gifts to the United States from the Chinese government.
An average elephant weighs more than 30 giant pandas.
Giant pandas live at a high elevation, where clouds float near the trees.
The Giant Panda
By Judith Janda Presnall
By Jane Goodall