You are probably already aware that one of China's national treasures are their beautiful but endangered Panda Bears. These beautiful bears can be found at the zoos in Shanghai and Beijing, and at places like the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in Chengdu, or at the Wolong Nature Reserve in the Sichuan Province. In the United States, pandas can be seen at the National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo. Visitors can view the bears eating, sleeping and playing.
Giant Pandas are large, like most bears, but they typically have thick black and white fur with a short tail. The areas around a giant pandas eyes, ears, legs and shoulders and are black, while rest of their body is covered in white fur. The bears have very good eyesight. They also have strong jaws and teeth so that they can chew tough foods like bamboo shoots. Giant pandas have a special bones in their hand that works like an opposable thumb to aid in holding their food.
The pandas are native to only about six small locations in China. They live in the high mountainous areas near the center and southwest of China, among forests full of bamboo. The weather is mostly cloudy, rainy and misty throughout the year. The famous Chengdu Breeding Giant Panda Research is found on the mountain of Fu Tou. Giant pandas are considered carnivores, but the bears diet in the wild consists of almost all bamboo. It is by far the favorite food of a giant panda. However, bamboo is very low in nutrition, meaning a giant panda will need to eat for 10 to 14 hours a day.
The bears are very shy and prefer to live alone. The females and males only see each other about twice a year, in the late spring or early summer seasons to breed. A few months later, the female bear will usually give birth to just one or maybe two cubs in a den she has dug in the ground. Usually, only one of the bear cubs will live to maturity. They are very small and helpless when they are born, and cannot see. The newborn pandas are pink with almost no fur on their bodies. The mother panda nurses her nurse for about six months. At about one year old, the panda cubs will be able to live on their own. On average, a giant pandas can live to be between 17 and 20 years in the wild.
Just a little over a hundred years ago there were thousands of giant pandas in China, but their population has steadily declined because of the destruction of the forests to make way for new homes and businesses. Thankfully, pandas are protected by law and cannot be hunted. They can also live at safe places such as the the Wolong Nature Reserve.
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