The Giant Panda is a bear native to south-central China and is probably one of the most recognisable animals on earth with their distinctive black eye patches.
Pandas live mainly in bamboo forests, high up in the remote mountains of China. Pandas are omnivores and eat mostly bamboo, but also rodents, fish, insects and birds. They typically spend about 12 hours a day eating, and eat around 28lbs (12.5 kg) of bamboo each day. Giant pandas have a special bone that extends from their wrists called a pseudo-thumb which they used to hold and manipulate bamboo.
Adult pandas grow to 4-6 feet long and around 2 to 3 feet high, so they are not as large as many people imagine.
Female pandas give birth to one or two cubs every two years, and the young cubs remain with their mothers for 18 months before they head off alone. Unlike most bears, pandas do not hibernate as their bamboo diet will not allow them to build up enough fat reserves for the winter, although they do move lower down the mountains when temperatures drop.
The Giant Panda is the WWF's (World Wide Fund for Nature) logo since the organisation was founded in 1961. Despite a relative lack of natural predators, pandas are still at risk, mostly due to their natural habitat being destroyed by humans, and there are just over 1,800 pandas in the wild.
We've got a giant collection of giant panda activities on this page! Scroll down to find fun facts, panda printables of all sorts, original panda colouring pages and some wonderful panda crafts to inspire you - not to mention a useful collection of links to other websites and videos you can enjoy.
Fun Panda Facts
- A baby Giant Panda only weighs approximately 1/900th of the weight of an adult.
- Did you know that pandas need to eat up to 40lb (18kg) of food a day to get enough nourishment? (Just lift a packet of sugar or something of similar weight to get an idea of how much bamboo this is!)
- Their Latin name "ailuropoda melanoleuca" means black and white cat-foot. The Chinese call giant pandas daxiongmao or “large bear cat”, and they have also been known as “beast of prey,” “white leopard,” “iron-eating beast,” and “bamboo bear".
- Pandas have long been a symbol of peace in China, and in the past warring tribes in China would raise a flag with a picture of a panda on it to stop a battle.
- A giant panda can peel and eat a bamboo shoot in about 40 seconds. Their throat has a special lining to protect it from bamboo splinters.
- Panda poop points in their direction of travel, so they can be easily tracked in the wild, helping researchers to track them.
- Pandas are the most expensive animal to keep in a zoo, costing five times more to keep than the next most expensive animal (an elephant).
- They enjoy rolling down slopes, which helps remove twigs from their fur too.
- Giant pandas first appeared on earth 2-3 million years ago.