By Sarah Alaimo, WWF-Australia
Happy Panda Day!
The giant panda, the symbol of WWF since our founding in 1961, is adored worldwide as an icon for species conservation.
Giant pandas, native to south-central China, are known for their distinctive black and white coats, diet of bamboo, and love of naps.
Here are some fun facts to celebrate this incredible animal!
PANDA'S LOVE OF BAMBOO
The origin of the name ‘panda’ comes from the Nepalese word 'nigalya ponya', meaning ‘eater of bamboo’. In Chinese, the giant panda is called the 'large bear cat'. Pandas survive almost entirely on a herbivorous diet of bamboo, eating up to 12.5 kg every day.
A newborn panda is about the size of a stick of butter, or about 1/900th the size of its mother, making them among the smallest newborn mammals relative to their mothers worldwide.
A VULNERABLE SPECIES
Just over 1,800 pandas are left in the wild due to serious threats posed by humans. However, ongoing conservation work has improved the number with a 17% increase in just the last decade according to the results from China’s Fourth National Giant Panda Survey, conducted with help from WWF.
EXCELLENT TREE CLIMBERS
Despite weighing between 80-150 kg as fully grown adults, panda bears are excellent tree climbers.
AN UMBRELLA SPECIES
The giant panda is an umbrella species, meaning that their protection also ensures the protection of other species in their biologically diverse habitat. Multicoloured pheasants, the golden monkey, takin, and crested ibis are some of the neighbouring species that are also protected by the panda’s conservation.