Giant Panda

Giant Panda

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The giant panda, or panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally meaning "black and white cat-foot") is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

. Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared feed.

The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 province, but also in the Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 and Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

 provinces.
Due to farming, deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 and other development, the panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.

The panda is a conservation reliant
Conservation reliant species
Conservation reliant species are endangered or threatened animal or plant species that require continuing species specific wildlife management intervention such as predator control, habitat management and parasite control to survive even when self-sustaining population recovery goals are...

 endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

. A 2007 report shows 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis
Genetic fingerprinting
DNA profiling is a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA profiles. DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person's DNA makeup, which can also be used as the person's identifier...

 estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of pandas in the wild is on the rise. However, the IUCN does not believe there is enough certainty yet to reclassify the species from Endangered to Vulnerable.

While the dragon
Chinese dragon
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

 has historically served as China's national emblem
National emblem
A national emblem symbolically represents a nation. Most national emblems originate in the natural world, such as animals or birds, but another object may serve. National emblems may appear on many things such as the national flag, coat of arms, or other patriotic materials...

, in recent decades the panda has also served as an emblem for the country. Its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative silver, gold, and platinum coins. Though the panda is often assumed to be docile, it has been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation rather than predation.

Description




The giant panda has a black-and-white coat. Adults measure around 1.2 to 1.8 m (3.9 to 5.9 ft) long, including a tail of about 13 cm (5.1 in), and 60 centimetre tall at the shoulder
Shoulder
The human shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle , the scapula , and the humerus as well as associated muscles, ligaments and tendons. The articulations between the bones of the shoulder make up the shoulder joints. The major joint of the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint, which...

. Males can weigh up to 160 kilograms (352.7 lb). Females (generally 10–20% smaller than males) can weigh as little as 75 kg (165.3 lb) but can also weigh up to 125 kilograms (275.6 lb). Average adult weight is 100 to 115 kg (220.5 to 253.5 lb).

The giant panda has a body shape typical of bears. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage in its shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The giant panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. The giant panda has large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo.

The giant panda's paw
Paw
A paw is the soft foot of a mammal, generally a quadruped, that has claws or nails. A hard foot is called a hoof. Paws are used to pad feet for walking and increase friction.- Common characteristics :...

 has a "thumb" and five fingers; the "thumb" is actually a modified sesamoid bone
Sesamoid bone
In anatomy, a sesamoid bone is a bone embedded within a tendon.Sesamoids are found in locations where a tendon passes over a joint, such as the hand, knee, and foot. Functionally, they act to protect the tendon and to increase its mechanical effect. The presence of the sesamoid bone holds the...

, which helps the giant panda to hold bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

 discusses this feature in his book of essays on evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 and biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, The Panda's Thumb.

The giant panda's tail, measuring 10 to 15 cm (3.9 to 5.9 in), is the second longest in the bear family. The longest belongs to the Sloth Bear
Sloth Bear
The sloth bear , also known as the labiated bear, is a nocturnal insectivorous species of bear found wild within the Indian subcontinent. The sloth bear evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution...

.

The giant panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity
Captivity (animal)
Animals that live under human care are in captivity. Captivity can be used as a generalizing term to describe the keeping of either domesticated animals or wild animals. This may include for example farms, private homes and zoos...

. The recorded age of the oldest captive giant panda, a female named Ming Ming, is 34.

Behavior


In the wild, the giant panda is a terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

 and primarily spends its life roaming and feeding in the bamboo forests of the Qinling Mountains and in the hilly Sichuan Province. Giant pandas are generally solitary, and each adult has a defined territory and females are not tolerant of other females in their range. Pandas communicate through vocalization and scent marking such as clawing trees or spraying urine. The giant panda is able to climb and take shelter in hollow trees or rock crevices but does not establish permanent dens. For this reason, pandas do not hibernate
Hibernation
Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve food, especially during winter when food supplies are limited, tapping energy reserves, body fat, at a slow rate...

, which is similar to other subtropical mammals, and will instead move to elevations with warmer temperatures. Pandas rely primarily on spatial memory
Spatial memory
In cognitive psychology and neuroscience, spatial memory is the part of memory responsible for recording information about one's environment and its spatial orientation. For example, a person's spatial memory is required in order to navigate around a familiar city, just as a rat's spatial memory is...

 rather than visual memory
Visual memory
Visual memory describes the relationship between perceptual processing and the encoding, storage and retrieval of the resulting neural representations. Visual memory occurs over a broad time range spanning from eye movements to years in order to visually navigate to a previously visited location...

.

Social encounters occur primarily during the brief breeding season in which pandas in proximity to one another will gather. After mating, the male leaves the female alone to raise the cub.

Feeding




Despite its taxonomic
Alpha taxonomy
Alpha taxonomy is the discipline concerned with finding, describing and naming species of living or fossil organisms. This field is supported by institutions holding collections of these organisms, with relevant data, carefully curated: such institutes include natural history museums, herbaria and...

 classification as a carnivora
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

n, the giant panda's diet
Diet (nutrition)
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. With the word diet, it is often implied the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management...

 is primarily herbivorous, consisting almost exclusively of bamboo. However, the giant panda still has the digestive system of a carnivore, as well as carnivore-specific genes, and thus derives little energy and little protein from consumption of bamboo. Its ability to digest cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 is ascribed to the microbes in its gut. The giant panda is a "highly specialized" animal with "unique adaptations", and has lived in bamboo forests for millions of years. The average giant panda eats as much as 9 to 14 kg (20 to 30 pounds) of bamboo shoots a day. Because the giant panda consumes a diet low in nutrition, it is important for it to keep its digestive tract full. The limited energy input imposed on it by its diet has affected the panda's behavior. The giant panda tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply sloping terrain in order to limit its energy expenditures.

Two of the panda's most distinctive features, its large size and its round face, are adaptation
Adaptation
An adaptation in biology is a trait with a current functional role in the life history of an organism that is maintained and evolved by means of natural selection. An adaptation refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation....

s to its bamboo diet. Panda researcher Russell Ciochon
Russell Ciochon
Russell Ciochon is an American paleoanthropologist. He was born in Altadena, California and received three degrees in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa...

 observed that: “[much] like the vegetarian gorilla
Gorilla
Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies...

, the low body surface area to body volume [of the giant panda] is indicative of a lower metabolic rate. This lower metabolic rate and a more sedentary lifestyle allow the giant panda to subsist on nutrient poor resources such as bamboo.” Similarly, the giant panda's round face is the result of powerful jaw muscles, which attach from the top of the head to the jaw. Large molars crush and grind fibrous plant material.

Pandas eat any of twenty-five bamboo species in the wild, such as Fargesia dracocephala
Fargesia dracocephala
Fargesia dracocephala is a woody bamboo native to central China. It is known in Chinese as longtou jianzhu , meaning dragon head Fargesia. The scientific name is derived from Ancient Greek and has the same meaning. It is found at high elevations in the south of Gansu, western Hubei, southern...

and Fargesia rufa
Fargesia rufa
Fargesia rufa is a woody bamboo native to western China. It is known in Chinese as qingchuan jianzhu , meaning "Qingchuan Fargesia", Qingchuan being a county within the prefecture-level city of Guangyuan in the north of Sichuan. It is found at high elevations in the north of this province as well...

. Only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas now inhabit. Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels; stems have less. Given this large diet, the giant panda can defecate up to 40 times a day.

Because of the synchronous flowering, death, and regeneration of all bamboo within a species, the giant panda must have at least two different species available in its range to avoid starvation. While primarily herbivorous, the giant panda still retains decidedly ursine teeth, and will eat meat, fish, and eggs when available. In captivity, zoos typically maintain the giant panda's bamboo diet, though some will provide specially-formulated biscuits or other dietary supplements.

Genomics


The giant panda genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

 was sequenced in 2009 using a next-generation sequencing technology. Its genome contains 20 pairs of autosome
Autosome
An autosome is a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome, or allosome; that is to say, there is an equal number of copies of the chromosome in males and females. For example, in humans, there are 22 pairs of autosomes. In addition to autosomes, there are sex chromosomes, to be specific: X and Y...

s and one pair of sex chromosomes.

Classification


For many decades the precise taxonomic classification of the giant panda was under debate because it shares characteristics of both bears and raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s. However, molecular studies suggest that the giant panda is a true bear and part of the Ursidae
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

 family, though it differentiated early in history from the main ursine stock. The giant panda's closest extant relative is the spectacled bear
Spectacled Bear
The spectacled bear , also known as the Andean bear and locally as ukuko, jukumari or ucumari, is the last remaining short-faced bear and the closest living relative to the Florida spectacled bear and short-faced bears of the Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene age.The spectacled bear is a...

 of South America. The giant panda has been referred to as a living fossil
Living fossil
Living fossil is an informal term for any living species which appears similar to a species otherwise only known from fossils and which has no close living relatives, or a group of organisms which have long fossil records...

.

Despite the shared name, habitat type, and diet, as well as a unique enlarged bone called the pseudo thumb (which helps them grip the bamboo shoots they eat), the giant panda and red panda
Red Panda
The red panda , is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is the only species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs...

 are only distantly related. Molecular studies have placed the red panda in its own family Ailuridae
Ailuridae
Ailuridae is a family in the mammal order Carnivora. The family includes the Red Panda and its extinct relatives.-Classification history:...

, and not under Ursidae.

Subspecies


Two subspecies of giant panda have been recognized on the basis of distinct cranial measurements, color patterns, and population genetics
Population genetics
Population genetics is the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. It also takes into account the factors of recombination, population subdivision and population...

 (Wan et al., 2005).
  • The nominate subspecies Ailuropoda melanoleuca melanoleuca consists of most extant populations of panda. These animals are principally found in Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

     and display the typical stark black and white contrasting colors.
  • The Qinling Panda
    Qinling Panda
    The Qinling panda is a subspecies of the giant panda, discovered in the 1960s but not recognized as a subspecies until 2005. Disregarding the nominate subspecies, it is the first giant panda subspecies to be recognized...

    , Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis is restricted to the Qinling Mountains
    Qinling Mountains
    The Qin Mountains are a major east-west mountain range in southern Shaanxi province, China. The mountains provide a natural boundary between the North and South of the country, and support a huge variety of plant and wildlife, some of which is found nowhere else on Earth.To the north is the...

     in Shaanxi at elevations of 1300–3000 m. The typical black and white pattern of Sichuan giant pandas is replaced with a dark brown versus light brown pattern. The skull of A. m. qinlingensis is smaller than its relatives, and it has larger molars.

Early references


In the past, pandas were thought to be rare and noble creatures – the mother
Empress Dowager Bo
Empress Dowager Bo , known as Consort Bo when her husband was alive, and more formally as either Empress Dowager Xiaowen or Empress Gao was an imperial concubine for Emperor Gao of Han who would, unanticipated by her, become the mother of an emperor.-Early years:The future Empress Dowager...

 of Emperor Wen of Han
Emperor Wen of Han
Emperor Wen of Han was the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty in China. His given name is Heng.Liu Heng was a son of Emperor Gao of Han and Consort Bo, later empress dowager...

 was buried with a panda skull in her vault. The grandson of Emperor Taizong of Tang
Emperor Taizong of Tang
Emperor Taizong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Shìmín , was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649...

 is said to have given Japan two pandas and a sheet of panda skin as a sign of goodwill. Unlike many other animals in Ancient China
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

, pandas were rarely thought to have medical uses. The few known uses include the Sichuan tribal peoples' use of panda urine to melt accidentally swallowed needles, and the use of panda pelts to control menses as described in the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 encyclopedia Erya
Erya
The Erya is the oldest extant Chinese dictionary or Chinese encyclopedia. Bernhard Karlgren concluded that "the major part of its glosses must reasonably date from" the 3rd century BC....

.

The creature named mo (貘) mentioned in some ancient books has been interpreted as giant panda. The dictionary Shuowen Jiezi
Shuowen Jiezi
The Shuōwén Jiězì was an early 2nd century CE Chinese dictionary from the Han Dynasty. Although not the first comprehensive Chinese character dictionary , it was still the first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the rationale behind them , as well as the first to use the...

(Eastern Han Dynasty) says that the mo, from Shu
Shu (state)
The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

 (Sichuan), is bear-like, but yellow-and-black, although the older Erya
Erya
The Erya is the oldest extant Chinese dictionary or Chinese encyclopedia. Bernhard Karlgren concluded that "the major part of its glosses must reasonably date from" the 3rd century BC....

describes mo simply as a "white leopard". The interpretation of the legendary fierce creature pixiu
Pixiu
Pixiu or Pi Yao originally known as Pi Xie is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a winged lion. Pixiu is an earth and sea variation, particularly an influential and auspicious creature for wealth...

(貔貅) as referring to the giant panda are also common.

During the reign of the Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 (early 15th century), his relative from Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

 sent him a captured zouyu
Zouyu
Zouyu is a legendary creature mentioned in old Chinese literature. The earliest known appearance of the characters 騶虞 is in the Book of Songs, but J.J.L...

(騶虞), and another zouyu was sighted in Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

. Zouyu is a legendary "righteous" animal, which, similarly to a qilin
Qilin
The Qilin is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler. It is a good omen that brings rui . It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over...

, only appears during the rule of a benevolent and sincere monarch. It is said to be fierce as a tiger, but gentle and strictly vegetarian, and described in some books as a white tiger with black spots. Puzzled about the real zoological identity of the creature captured during the Yongle era, J.J.L. Duyvendak exclaims, "Can it possibly have been a Pandah?"

The comparative obscurity of the giant panda throughout most of China's history is illustrated by the fact that, despite there being a number of depictions of bears in Chinese art
Chinese art
Chinese art is visual art that, whether ancient or modern, originated in or is practiced in China or by Chinese artists or performers. Early so-called "stone age art" dates back to 10,000 BC, mostly consisting of simple pottery and sculptures. This early period was followed by a series of art...

 starting from its most ancient times, and the bamboo being one of the favorite subjects for Chinese painters, there are no known pre-20th-century artistic representations of giant pandas.

Western "discovery"


The West first learned of the giant panda in 1869 because the French missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Armand David
Armand David
Father Armand David was a Lazarist missionary Catholic priest as well as a zoologist and a botanist.-General Biography:...

 received a skin from a hunter on 11 March 1869. The first Westerner known to have seen a living giant panda is the German zoologist Hugo Weigold
Hugo Weigold
Max Hugo Weigold was a German zoologist and a pioneer bird bander who established the Heligoland Bird Observatory, one of the world’s first.Weigold was born in Dresden. He studied natural sciences and geography in Jena and Leipzig...

, who purchased a cub in 1916. Kermit
Kermit Roosevelt
Kermit Roosevelt I MC was a son of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. He was an explorer on two continents with his father, a graduate of Harvard University, a soldier serving in two world wars, with both the British and U.S. Armies, a businessman, and a writer...

 and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Theodore D. Roosevelt, Jr. , was an American political and business leader, a Medal of Honor recipient who fought in both of the 20th century's world wars. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt from his second wife Edith Roosevelt...

, became the first Westerners to shoot a panda, on an expedition funded by the Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It sits on Lake Shore Drive next to Lake Michigan, part of a scenic complex known as the Museum Campus Chicago...

 in the 1920s. In 1936, Ruth Harkness
Ruth Harkness
Ruth Elizabeth Harkness was an American fashion designer and socialite, who traveled to China in 1936 and brought back the first live giant panda to the United States - not in a cage, or on a leash, but wrapped in her arms.Harkness was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania...

 became the first Westerner to bring back a live giant panda, a cub named Su Lin who went to live at the Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
The Brookfield Zoo is zoo located in the Chicago suburb of Brookfield, Illinois. The zoo covers an area of and houses around 450 species of animals....

 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. In 1938, five giant pandas were sent to London; these activities were later halted because of wars and for the next half of the century, the West knew little of pandas.

Panda diplomacy



Loans of giant pandas to American and Japanese zoos formed an important part of the diplomacy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s, as it marked some of the first cultural exchanges between the People's Republic and the West. This practice has been termed "Panda diplomacy".

By 1984, however, pandas were no longer used as agents of diplomacy. Instead, the PRC began to offer pandas to other nations only on 10-year loans. The standard loan terms include a fee of up to US$1,000,000 per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan are the property of the People's Republic of China. Since 1998, due to a WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal government agency within the United States Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats...

 only allows a U.S. zoo
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

 to import a panda if the zoo can ensure that the PRC will channel more than half of its loan fee into conservation
Conservation movement
The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal, fungus and plant species as well as their habitat for the future....

 efforts for the giant panda and its habitat.

In May 2005, the People's Republic of China offered a breeding pair to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

. The issue became embroiled in cross-Strait relations
Cross-Strait relations
Cross-Strait relations refers to the relations between People's Republic of China and the Republic of China , which lie to the west and east, repectively, of the Taiwan Strait in the west Pacific Ocean....

—both over the underlying symbolism, and over technical issues such as whether the transfer would be considered "domestic" or "international," or whether any true conservation purpose would be served by the exchange. A contest in 2006 to name the pandas was held in the mainland, resulting in the politically charged names Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan
Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan
Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan are two giant pandas that were given by the People's Republic of China to the Republic of China in 2008. The gift was first proposed in 2005, but the previous administration in Taiwan had refused to accept the pandas...

 (from tuanyuan, meaning "reunion", i.e. "reunification"). PRC's offer was initially rejected by President Chen of Taiwan. However when Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou is the 12th term and current President of the Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan, and the Chairman of the Kuomintang Party, also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party. He formerly served as Justice Minister from 1993 to 1996, Mayor of Taipei from 1998 to 2006, and Chairman...

 assumed the presidency in 2008 the offer was accepted, and the pandas arrived in December of that year.

Conservation


The giant panda is an endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

, threatened by continued habitat loss
Habitat destruction
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of...

 and by a very low birthrate, both in the wild and in captivity
Captivity (animal)
Animals that live under human care are in captivity. Captivity can be used as a generalizing term to describe the keeping of either domesticated animals or wild animals. This may include for example farms, private homes and zoos...

.

The giant panda has been a target for poaching by locals since ancient times and by foreigners since it was introduced to the West. Starting in the 1930s, foreigners were unable to poach giant pandas in China because of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 and the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, but pandas remained a source of soft furs for the locals. The population boom in China after 1949 created stress on the pandas' habitat, and the subsequent famines led to the increased hunting of wildlife, including pandas. During the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, all studies and conservation activities on the pandas were stopped. After the Chinese economic reform
Chinese economic reform
The Chinese economic reform refers to the program of economic reforms called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" in the People's Republic of China that were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China led by Deng Xiaoping.China had one of the world's largest...

, demand for panda skins from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching for the black market
Underground economy
A black market or underground economy is a market in goods or services which operates outside the formal one supported by established state power. Typically the totality of such activity is referred to with the definite article as a complement to the official economies, by market for such goods and...

, acts generally ignored by the local officials at the time.

Though the Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve....

 was set up by the PRC government in 1958 to save the declining panda population, few advances in the conservation of pandas were made, due to inexperience and insufficient knowledge of ecology. Many believed that the best way to save the pandas was to cage them. As a result, pandas were caged at any sign of decline, and suffered from terrible conditions. Because of pollution and destruction of their natural habitat, along with segregation due to caging, reproduction of wild pandas was severely limited. In the 1990s, however, several laws (including gun control and the removal of resident humans from the reserves) helped the chances of survival for pandas. With these renewed efforts and improved conservation methods, wild pandas have started to increase in numbers in some areas, even though they still are classified as a rare species
Rare species
A rare species is a group of organisms that are very uncommon or scarce. This designation may be applied to either a plant or animal taxon, and may be distinct from the term "endangered" or "threatened species" but not "extinct"....

.

In 2006, scientists reported that the number of pandas living in the wild may have been underestimated at about 1,000. Previous population surveys had used conventional methods to estimate the size of the wild panda population, but using a new method that analyzes DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 from panda droppings
Feces
Feces, faeces, or fæces is a waste product from an animal's digestive tract expelled through the anus or cloaca during defecation.-Etymology:...

, scientists believe that the wild panda population may be as large as 3,000. Although the species is still endangered, it is thought that the conservation efforts are working. In 2006, there were 40 panda reserves in China, compared to just 13 reserves two decades ago.

The giant panda is among the world's most adored and protected rare animals, and is one of the few in the world whose natural inhabitant status was able to gain a UNESCO World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 designation. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries located in southwest Sichuan province of China, is the home to more than 30% of the world's highly endangered Giant Pandas and is among the most important sites for the captive breeding of these pandas. It covers 9245 km² with seven nature reserves and nine...

, located in the southwest Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 province and covering seven natural reserves, were inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2006.

Not all conservationists agree that the money spent on conserving pandas is money well spent. Chris Packham
Chris Packham
Christopher George "Chris" Packham is an English naturalist, nature photographer, television presenter and author. He is the brother of fashion designer, Jenny Packham...

 has argued that breeding pandas in captivity is "pointless" because "there is not enough habitat left to sustain them". Packham argues that the money spent on pandas would be better spent elsewhere, and has said that he would "eat the last panda if I could have all the money we have spent on panda conservation put back on the table for me to do more sensible things with," though he has apologized for upsetting people who like pandas. He points out that "The panda is possibly one of the grossest wastes of conservation money in the last half century."

Reproduction


Initially the primary method of breeding giant pandas in captivity was by artificial insemination
Artificial insemination
Artificial insemination, or AI, is the process by which sperm is placed into the reproductive tract of a female for the purpose of impregnating the female by using means other than sexual intercourse or natural insemination...

, as they seemed to lose their interest in mating
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

 once they were captured. This led some scientists to try extreme methods such as showing them videos of giant pandas mating
Panda pornography
Panda pornography refers generally to movies depicting mating pandas, intended to promote sexual arousal in captive Giant Pandas...

 and giving the males Viagra
Sildenafil
Sildenafil citrate, sold as Viagra, Revatio and under various other trade names, is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension . It was originally developed by British scientists and then brought to market by the US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer...

. Only recently have researchers started having success with captive breeding programs, and they have now determined that giant pandas have comparable breeding to some populations of the American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

, a thriving bear family. The current reproductive rate is considered one young every two years.

Giant pandas reach sexual maturity between the ages of four and eight, and may be reproductive until age 20. The mating season is between March and May, when a female goes into her estrous cycle
Estrous cycle
The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiologic changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females. Estrous cycles start after puberty in sexually mature females and are interrupted by anestrous phases or pregnancies...

 which lasts for two or three days and only occurs once a year. When mating, the female is in a crouching, head-down position as the male mounts her from behind. Copulation
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 time is short, ranging from thirty seconds to five minutes, but the male may mount her repeatedly to ensure successful fertilization. The gestation
Gestation
Gestation is the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside a female viviparous animal. Mammals during pregnancy can have one or more gestations at the same time ....

 period ranges from 95 to 160 days. Cubs weigh only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces), which is about 1/800 of the mother's weight.

If twins are born, usually only one survives in the wild. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. It is thought that the mother cannot produce enough milk for two cubs since she does not store fat. The father has no part in helping raise the cub.

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless. A giant panda cub is also extremely small, and it is difficult for the mother to protect it because of the baby's size. It nurses from its mother's breast 6 to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 between the fur and its mother's saliva
Saliva
Saliva , referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber, is the watery substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands,...

. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. A cub's fur is very soft and coarsens with age. The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days; mothers play with their cubs by rolling and wrestling with them. The cubs are able to eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

In July 2009, Chinese scientists confirmed the birth of the first cub to be successfully conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm. The cub was born at 07:41 on 23 July that year in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 as the third cub of You You, an 11-year-old. The technique for freezing the sperm in liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at a very low temperature. It is produced industrially by fractional distillation of liquid air. Liquid nitrogen is a colourless clear liquid with density of 0.807 g/mL at its boiling point and a dielectric constant of 1.4...

 was first developed in 1980 and the first birth was hailed as a solution to the problem of lessening giant panda semen availability which had led to in-breeding. It has been suggested that panda semen, which can be frozen for decades, could be shared between different zoos to save the species. It is expected that zoos in destinations such as San Diego in the United States and Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 will now be able to provide their own semen to inseminate more giant pandas.

Attempts have also been made to reproduce giant pandas by interspecific pregnancy by implanting cloned panda embryos into the uterus of an animal of another species. This has resulted in panda fetuses, but no live births.

Name


There is no conclusive explanation of the origin of the word "panda". The closest candidate is the Nepali
Nepali language
Nepali or Nepalese is a language in the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal and is also spoken in Bhutan, parts of India and parts of Myanmar...

 word ponya, possibly referring to the adapted wrist bone. The Western world originally applied this name to the red panda. Until 1901, when it was erroneously stated that it was related to the red panda, the giant panda was known as "mottled bear" (Ailuropus melanoleucus) or "particolored bear".

In most encyclopedic sources, the name "panda" or "common panda" originally referred to the lesser-known red panda
Red Panda
The red panda , is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is the only species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs...

, thus necessitating the inclusion of "giant" and "lesser/red" prefixes in front of the names. Even in 2010, the Encyclopædia Britannica still used "giant panda" or "panda bear" for the bear and simply "panda" for the Ailuridae
Ailuridae
Ailuridae is a family in the mammal order Carnivora. The family includes the Red Panda and its extinct relatives.-Classification history:...

, despite the popular usage of the word "panda".

Since the earliest collection of Chinese writings, the Chinese language has given the bear 20 different names, such as 花熊 (huā xióng) "spotted bear" and 竹熊 (zhú xióng) "bamboo bear". The most popular names in China today are 大熊貓 (dà xióng māo), literally "large bear cat", or just 熊貓 (xióng māo), "bear cat". The name may have been inspired by the giant panda's eyes, which have pupils that are cat-like vertical slits – unlike other bear species
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

, which have round pupils.

In Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, the popular name for panda is the inverted 貓熊 (māo xióng) "cat bear," even though many encyclopedia and dictionaries in Taiwan still use "bear cat" as the correct name. Some linguists argue that, in this construction, "bear" instead of "cat" is the base noun, making this name more grammatically and logically correct, which may have led to the popular choice despite official writings.

In zoos


Pandas have been kept in zoos as early as the Western Han Dynasty in China, where the writer Sima Xiangru
Sima Xiangru
Sima Xiangru, also known as Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju was a Chinese writer. He was a minor official of the Western Han Dynasty, but was better known for his poetic skills, jiu business, and controversial marriage to the widow Zhuo Wenjun after both eloped...

 notes that the panda was the most treasured animal in the emperor's garden of exotic animals in the capital Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (present Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

). Not until the 1950s were pandas again recorded to have been exhibited in China's zoos.

Chi Chi at the London Zoo became very popular. This influenced the World Wildlife Fund to use a panda as its symbol.

A 2006 New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

article outlined the economics of keeping pandas, which costs five times more than that of the next most expensive animal, an elephant. American zoos generally pay the Chinese government $1 million a year in fees, as part of a typical ten-year contract. San Diego's contract with China was to expire in 2008 but got a five-year extension at about half of the previous yearly cost. The last contract, with the Memphis Zoo
Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo, located in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Created in April 1906, the zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years. The land currently designated to the Memphis Zoo was defined by the...

 in Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, ends in 2013.

Asia


China

Many zoos and breeding centers in China house giant pandas. These include:
  • Beijing Zoo
    Beijing Zoo
    The Beijing Zoo is a zoological park in Beijing, China. Located in the Xicheng District, the zoo occupies an area of 89 hectares , including 5.6 hectares of lakes and ponds . It is one of the oldest zoos in China and has one of the largest animal collections in the country...

     – home of the internationally notorious Gu Gu
    Gu Gu
    Gu Gu is a male Giant Panda at the Beijing Zoo, born at the Wolong National Nature Reserve. He has received international attention for incidents in which he attacked zoo visitors who trespassed into his enclosure.-First Incident:...

    .
  • Bifengxia Panda Base
    Bifengxia Panda Base
    Bifengxia Panda Base is a giant panda breeding facility in Ya'an, Sichuan, China. Since opening in 2004, it has become home to several more giant pandas. This includes the U.S.-born Hua Mei and Mei Sheng, who were relocated there after the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake severely damaged the...

    , Ya'an
    Ya'an
    Ya'an is a prefecture-level city in the western part of Sichuan province of Southwest China, located just below the Tibetan Plateau.-History:...

    , Sichuan – home to U.S. born giant pandas Mei Sheng
    Mei Sheng
    Mei Sheng is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. He is the second panda to be born at the zoo and is the first offspring of Bai Yun and Gao Gao. He is the half brother of Hua Mei and the brother of Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, and Yun Zi.Mei Sheng was sent to China on November 5, 2007...

     (M), Hua Mei
    Hua Mei (giant panda)
    Hua Mei , is a female giant panda. She is the first giant panda cub to survive to adulthood in the United States. She was born to Bai Yun and Shi Shi at the San Diego Zoo...

     (F), Tai Shan (M), Su Lin (F), and Zhen Zhen
    Zhen Zhen
    Zhen Zhen, , pronounced 'jun jun' is a female giant panda born to Bai Yun and Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo. Her name means "Precious". She is Bai Yun's fourth cub, and Gao Gao's third. Zhen Zhen has one half sibling, Hua Mei, and three full siblings, Mei Sheng, Su Lin, and Yun Zi...

     (F). It is also home to the Austrian-born Fu Long.
  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
    Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
    Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or simply Chengdu Panda Base, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. It is located in Chengdu, Sichuan, People's Republic of China....

    , Chengdu
    Chengdu
    Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

    , Sichuan – Twelve cubs were born here in 2006. It is also home to Japanese-born Xiong Bang (M) and U.S.-born Mei Lan
    Mei Lan
    Mei Lan , is a male giant panda. He was born at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia on September 6, 2006, after a record-setting 35-hour labor. Originally identified by zoo staffers as female, Mei Lan was determined to be male by staff in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. He is...

     (F).
  • China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve
    Wolong National Nature Reserve
    Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve....

    , Sichuan – Seventeen cubs were born here in 2006.
  • Ocean Park
    Ocean Park Hong Kong
    Ocean Park Hong Kong , commonly known as Ocean Park, is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park, situated in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in the Southern District of Hong Kong. Founded in 1977 by the then Governor of Hong Kong Sir Murray MacLehose, Ocean Park has...

    , Hong Kong – home to Jia Jia (F), An An (M), Le Le (M), and Ying Ying (F).


Other places in Asia
  • Taipei Zoo
    Taipei Zoo
    The Taipei Zoo , sometimes referred to as the "Muzha Zoo" , is a public zoological garden in Taipei City in Taiwan. It is the most famous zoological garden in Taiwan and a leader in conservation, research and education, and recreation...

    , Taipei
    Taipei
    Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

    , Taiwan – home to Tuan Tuan (M) and Yuan Yuan (F)
    Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan
    Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan are two giant pandas that were given by the People's Republic of China to the Republic of China in 2008. The gift was first proposed in 2005, but the previous administration in Taiwan had refused to accept the pandas...

    .
  • Chiang Mai Zoo
    Chiang Mai Zoo
    -External links:...

    , Chiang Mai
    Chiang Mai
    Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province , a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is...

    , Thailand – home to Chuang Chuang (M), Lin Hui (F), and Lin Bing
    Lin Bing
    Lin Bing, is a female giant panda in Thailand. Born on 27 May 2009 at Chiang Mai Zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand by Gamete intrafallopian transfer to Lin Hui and Xuang Xuang, it is the first giant panda born in Thailand. Its name, meaning the "Forest of Ice," was chosen after a nationwide name...

    , a female cub born 27 May 2009
  • Adventure World, Shirahama
    Shirahama, Wakayama
    is a town located in Nishimuro District, Wakayama, Japan.On March 1, 2006 the town of Hikigawa, from Nishimuro District, was merged into Shirahama....

    , Wakayama
    Wakayama Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located on the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Wakayama.- History :Present-day Wakayama is mostly the western part of the province of Kii.- 1953 Wakayama Prefecture flood disaster :...

     – Until recently, home to Ei Mei (M), Mei Mei (F), Rau Hin (F), Ryu Hin and Syu Hin (male twins), and Kou Hin (M). In December 2006, twin cubs were born to Ei Mei and Mei Mei. Two cubs, Eiihin (M) and Meihin (F), were born to Rau Hin on 13 September 2008. Mei Mei, a mother of ten cubs, died on 15 October 2008.
  • Oji Zoo, Kobe
    Kobe
    , pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

    , Hyōgo
    Hyogo Prefecture
    is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region on Honshū island. The capital is Kobe.The prefecture's name was previously alternately spelled as Hiogo.- History :...

     – home of Kou Kou (M), Tan Tan (F)
  • River Safari
    River Safari
    The River Safari is an upcoming river-themed zoo located in Singapore to be opened in 2012 with construction set to be completed in late 2011. The attraction built over 12 hectares of land, and will be nestled between its two counterparts the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari...

    , a new park under Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Singapore
    Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

     – to receive two pandas (Kai Kai and Jia Jia) in 2012.

Australia

  • Adelaide Zoo
    Adelaide Zoo
    Adelaide Zoo is Australia's second oldest zoo, and the only major metropolitan zoo in Australia to be owned and operated on a non-profit basis. It is located in the parklands just north of the city centre of Adelaide, South Australia. It is a full institutional member of the Zoo and Aquarium...

    , Adelaide
    Adelaide
    Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

     – home to Wang Wang (M) and Funi (F). They arrived on 28 November 2009, and went on display on 14 December. They are expected to stay for a minimum of 10 years, and are the only giant pandas living in the Southern Hemisphere
    Southern Hemisphere
    The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

    .

Europe


  • Zoologischer Garten Berlin, Berlin, Germany – home of Bao Bao, age 32, the oldest male panda living in captivity; he has been in Berlin for 25 years and has never reproduced.
  • Tiergarten Schönbrunn
    Tiergarten Schönbrunn
    Tiergarten Schönbrunn or Vienna Zoo is a zoo located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria...

    , Vienna, Austria – home to Yang Yang (F) and Long Hui (M), born in Wolong, China in 2000. They gave birth to Fu Long (M) in 2007, and Fu Hu (M) in 2010. Fu Long, who has been relocated to China, was the first to be born in Europe in 25 years.
  • Zoo Aquarium
    Zoo Aquarium de Madrid
    The Madrid Zoo Aquarium is a zoo and aquarium in Madrid, Spain. It is located in the Casa de Campo. The Zoo is property of the City Council, but it is managed by the international entertainment operator Parques Reunidos...

    , Madrid, Spain – home of Bing Xing (M) and Hua Zuiba (F) since 2007. They gave birth to twin cubs on 7 September 2010. The zoo was also the site of the first giant panda birth in Europe, back in 1982. That giant panda cub was named Chu-lin.
  • The Edinburgh Zoo
    Edinburgh Zoo
    Edinburgh Zoo, formally the Scottish National Zoological Park, is a non-profit zoological park located in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland...

     signed an agreement with the Wolong Nature Preserve on 10 January 2011 to obtain two giant pandas, Tian Tian (F) and Yang Guang (M).

North America


  • Chapultepec Zoo
    Chapultepec Zoo
    -References:* - * on the Zoo at "Giant Panda Planet.com"* of the Zoo at "Mexico Desconocido Online"* at "The Good Zoo Guide Online"...

    , Mexico City – home of Xiu Hua, born on 25 June 1985, Shuan Shuan, born on 15 June 1987, and Xin Xin
    Xin Xin (panda)
    Xin Xin is a female giant panda that lives in the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City. Xin Xin was conceived via artificial insemination and was born in the Zoo on 1 July 1990...

    , born on 1 July 1990 from Tohui (Tohui born on Chapultepec Zoo on 21 July 1981 and died on 16 November 1993), all females.
  • San Diego Zoo
    San Diego Zoo
    The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, is one of the most progressive zoos in the world, with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species...

    , San Diego – home of Bai Yun
    Bai Yun
    Bai Yun is a female giant panda currently at the San Diego Zoo. Bai Yun was the first successful birth of a giant panda at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in China...

     (F), Gao Gao
    Gao Gao
    Gao Gao is a male giant panda currently at the San Diego Zoo. To date, he is the sire to four giant pandas in captivity.-History:Gao Gao was born in the wild in China, around 1992, and was taken to the Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve in 1993 suffering from injuries which resulted in the loss of...

     (M), and Yun Zi
    Yun Zi
    Yun Zi is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo on August 5, 2009. His name is "Son of Cloud" in Chinese.Weighed in at 4 ounces, Yun Zi is the fifth cub born to his mother Bai Yun, and the fourth to his father Gao Gao. He has one half-sister, Hua Mei, through Bai Yun. He also has one full...

     (M).
  • US National Zoo
    Smithsonian National Zoological Park
    The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, and as part of the Smithsonian Institution, does not charge admission. Founded in 1889, its mission is to provide leadership in animal care, science, education,...

    , Washington, D.C. – home of Mei Xiang
    Mei Xiang
    Mei Xiang is a female Giant Panda who lives at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C...

     (F) and Tian Tian
    Tian Tian
    Tian Tian is a 275-pound male giant panda at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. The panda was born on August 27, 1997, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, to Yong Ba and Pan Pan...

     (M).
  • Zoo Atlanta
    Zoo Atlanta
    Zoo Atlanta is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoological park in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is Atlanta’s oldest cultural destination and is one of the oldest continuously operating zoological institutions in the United States.Zoo Atlanta houses over 1,300 animals...

    , Atlanta – home of Lun Lun
    Lun Lun
    Lun Lun is a female giant panda at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. The panda, now , was born at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China on August 25, 1997. Her original name, Hua Hua, was changed to Lun Lun by her sponsor, the Taiwanese rock star Su Huilun...

     (F), Yang Yang
    Yang Yang (Atlanta giant panda)
    Yang Yang is a male giant panda currently residing at Zoo Atlanta. He is the mate to Lun Lun and the father to Mei Lan, Xi Lan, and Po, born on November 3, 2010....

     (M), Xi Lan
    Xi Lan
    Xi Lan is a male giant panda cub currently residing at Zoo Atlanta. He is the son and second offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. He is the brother of Mei Lan, who was born at Zoo Atlanta in 2006, and Po, born at Zoo Atlanta on November 3, 2010.Xi Lan was born at Zoo Atlanta on August 30, 2008,...

     (M), and Po (M), born 3 November 2010.
  • Memphis Zoo
    Memphis Zoo
    The Memphis Zoo, located in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Created in April 1906, the zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years. The land currently designated to the Memphis Zoo was defined by the...

    , Memphis
    Memphis, Tennessee
    Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

     – home of Ya Ya (F) and Le Le (M)

North American–born pandas

  • Tohui (Nahuatl
    Nahuatl
    Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

     word for kid), born 21 July 1981, died 16 November 1993; female. Chapultepec Zoo
    Chapultepec Zoo
    -References:* - * on the Zoo at "Giant Panda Planet.com"* of the Zoo at "Mexico Desconocido Online"* at "The Good Zoo Guide Online"...

    , Mexico City. Was the first giant panda that was born and survived in captivity outside China. Her parents were Ying Ying and Pe Pe.
  • Hua Mei
    Hua Mei (giant panda)
    Hua Mei , is a female giant panda. She is the first giant panda cub to survive to adulthood in the United States. She was born to Bai Yun and Shi Shi at the San Diego Zoo...

    , born 1999 in the San Diego Zoo and sent to China 2004.
  • Mei Sheng
    Mei Sheng
    Mei Sheng is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. He is the second panda to be born at the zoo and is the first offspring of Bai Yun and Gao Gao. He is the half brother of Hua Mei and the brother of Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, and Yun Zi.Mei Sheng was sent to China on November 5, 2007...

    , born 2003 at the San Diego Zoo, sent to China 2007.
  • Tai Shan
    Tai Shan (panda)
    Tai Shan , also known as Butterstick or 'Pandie' ) is a giant panda born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C on July 9, 2005 at 3:41 AM...

    , born 9 July 2005 at the National Zoo in Washington, sent to China 2010.
  • Su Lin, born 2 August 2005 at the San Diego Zoo and moved to China 2010.
  • Mei Lan
    Mei Lan
    Mei Lan , is a male giant panda. He was born at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia on September 6, 2006, after a record-setting 35-hour labor. Originally identified by zoo staffers as female, Mei Lan was determined to be male by staff in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. He is...

    , born 6 September 2006 at Zoo Atlanta, sent to China 2010.
  • Zhen Zhen
    Zhen Zhen
    Zhen Zhen, , pronounced 'jun jun' is a female giant panda born to Bai Yun and Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo. Her name means "Precious". She is Bai Yun's fourth cub, and Gao Gao's third. Zhen Zhen has one half sibling, Hua Mei, and three full siblings, Mei Sheng, Su Lin, and Yun Zi...

    , born 3 August 2007 at the San Diego Zoo and moved to China 2010.
  • Xi Lan
    Xi Lan
    Xi Lan is a male giant panda cub currently residing at Zoo Atlanta. He is the son and second offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. He is the brother of Mei Lan, who was born at Zoo Atlanta in 2006, and Po, born at Zoo Atlanta on November 3, 2010.Xi Lan was born at Zoo Atlanta on August 30, 2008,...

    , born 30 August 2008 at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Yun Zi
    Yun Zi
    Yun Zi is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo on August 5, 2009. His name is "Son of Cloud" in Chinese.Weighed in at 4 ounces, Yun Zi is the fifth cub born to his mother Bai Yun, and the fourth to his father Gao Gao. He has one half-sister, Hua Mei, through Bai Yun. He also has one full...

    , born 5 August 2009 at the San Diego Zoo.

In popular culture


The first sequences of pandas in the wild were shot by Franz Camenzind for American Broadcasting Company
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 (ABC) in about 1982. They were bought by the British Broadcasting Corporation
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 (BBC) Natural History Unit for their weekly magazine show Nature.

Recently, Natural History New Zealand
Natural History New Zealand
NHNZ is a New Zealand-based factual television production company that creates around 60 hours of television programming each year in the genres of nature, history, science, adventure and people....

 (NHNZ) has featured pandas in two documentaries. Panda Nursery (2006) featured China’s Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve....

 in the mountains in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

Province; forty giant pandas and a dedicated team of staff play a crucial role in ensuring the survival of the species. As part of the Reserve’s panda breeding program, a revolutionary new method of rearing twin cubs called ‘swap-raising’ has been developed. Each cub is raised by both its natural mother and one of the Reserve’s veterinarians, Wei Rongping, to increase the chances of both cubs surviving. Growing Up: Giant Panda (2003) featured Chengdu Giant Panda Center in south-west China as one of the best in the world. Yet with female pandas' short fertility cycles and low birth rates, raising the captive panda population is an uphill battle.

External links