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Police officer jumps off highway overpass to aid boy. Friends carry girl with disability so she could enjoy day at the beach. The giant panda has luxuriant black-and-white fur. Adults measure around 1. 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, speculation suggests that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage in their shade-dappled snowy and rocky habitat. It has evolved from previous ancestors to exhibit larger molars with increased complexity and expanded temporal fossa.
The giant panda's paw has a "thumb" and five fingers ; the "thumb" — actually a modified sesamoid bone — helps it to hold bamboo while eating. The longest belongs to the sloth bear.
The giant panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. A seven-year-old female named Jin Yi died in in a zoo in Zhengzhou , China, after showing symptoms of gastroenteritis and respiratory disease. It was found that the cause of death was toxoplasmosis , a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii and infecting most warm-blooded animals, including humans.
The giant panda genome was sequenced in using Illumina dye sequencing. Despite its taxonomic classification as a carnivoran , the giant panda's diet is primarily herbivorous , consisting almost exclusively of bamboo. Its ability to digest cellulose is ascribed to the microbes in its gut. Ingestion of such a large quantity of material is possible because of the rapid passage of large amounts of indigestible plant material through the short, straight digestive tract.
Given this voluminous diet, the giant panda defecates up to 40 times a day. The giant panda tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply sloping terrain to limit its energy expenditures.
Two of the panda's most distinctive features, its large size and round face, are adaptations to its bamboo diet. Anthropologist Russell Ciochon observed: This lower metabolic rate and a more sedentary lifestyle allows the giant panda to subsist on nutrient poor resources such as bamboo.
The morphological characteristics of extinct relatives of the giant panda suggest that while the ancient giant panda was omnivorous 7 million years ago mya , it only became herbivorous some Pandas eat any of 25 bamboo species in the wild, such as Fargesia dracocephala  and Fargesia rufa.
Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels; stems have less. 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. Pandas will travel between different habitats if they need to, so they can get the nutrients that they need and to balance their diet for reproduction.
They took note of their foraging and mating habits, and analysed samples of their food and feces. The pandas would move from the valleys into the Qinling Mountains and would only return to the valleys in autumn.
During the summer months bamboo shoots rich in protein are only available at higher altitudes which causes low calcium rates in the pandas and during breeding season the pandas would trek back down to eat bamboo leaves rich in calcium. Although adult giant pandas have few natural predators other than humans, young cubs are vulnerable to attacks by snow leopards , yellow-throated martens ,  eagles, feral dogs, and the Asian black bear.
The giant panda is a terrestrial animal and primarily spends its life roaming and feeding in the bamboo forests of the Qinling Mountains and in the hilly province of Sichuan. Social encounters occur primarily during the brief breeding season in which pandas in proximity to one another will gather. Pandas were thought to fall into the crepuscular category, those who are active twice a day, at dawn and dusk; however, Jindong Zhang found that pandas may belong to a category all of their own, with activity peaks in the morning, afternoon and midnight.
Due to their sheer size, pandas do not need to fear predators like other herbivores. They can therefore be active at any time of the day. Pandas communicate through vocalization and scent marking such as clawing trees or spraying urine. For this reason, pandas do not hibernate , which is similar to other subtropical mammals, and will instead move to elevations with warmer temperatures. Though the panda is often assumed to be docile, it has been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation rather than aggression.
Initially, the primary method of breeding giant pandas in captivity was by artificial insemination , as they seemed to lose their interest in mating once they were captured. The normal reproductive rate is considered to be one young every two years.
Giant pandas reach sexual maturity between the ages of four and eight, and may be reproductive until age Copulation time is short, ranging from 30 seconds to five minutes, but the male may mount her repeatedly to ensure successful fertilization.
The gestation period ranges from 95 to days. Giant pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die.
The mother is thought to be unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. 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 between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its 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 can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months,  though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year.
The interval between births in the wild is generally two years. In July , Chinese scientists confirmed the birth of the first cub to be successfully conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.
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. In the past, pandas were thought to be rare and noble creatures — the Empress Dowager Bo was buried with a panda skull in her vault. The grandson of Emperor Taizong of Tang 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 , 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 encyclopedia Erya.
Zouyu is a legendary "righteous" animal, which, similarly to a qilin , 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.
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 starting from its most ancient times, and the bamboo being one of the favorite subjects for Chinese painters, there are no known preth-century artistic representations of giant pandas.
The West first learned of the giant panda on 11 March , when the French missionary Armand David  received a skin from a hunter. The first Westerner known to have seen a living giant panda is the German zoologist Hugo Weigold , who purchased a cub in Kermit and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. In , Ruth Harkness became the first Westerner to bring back a live giant panda, a cub named Su Lin  which went to live at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. In , five giant pandas were sent to London.
Gifts 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 s, as it marked some of the first cultural exchanges between the PRC and the West. This practice has been termed "panda diplomacy". By , however, pandas were no longer given as gifts. Since , because of a WWF lawsuit , the United States Fish and Wildlife Service only allows a US zoo to import a panda if the zoo can ensure the PRC will channel more than half of its loan fee into conservation efforts for the giant panda and its habitat.
The issue became embroiled in cross-Strait relations — 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. However, when Ma Ying-jeou assumed the presidency in , the offer was accepted, and the pandas arrived in December of that year.
Microbes in panda waste are being investigated for their use in creating biofuels from bamboo and other plant materials. The giant panda is a vulnerable species , threatened by continued habitat loss and habitat fragmentation ,  and by a very low birthrate, both in the wild and in captivity. The giant panda has been a target of poaching by locals since ancient times and by foreigners since it was introduced to the West.
Starting in the s, foreigners were unable to poach giant pandas in China because of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War , but pandas remained a source of soft furs for the locals. The population boom in China after created stress on the pandas' habitat, and the subsequent famines led to the increased hunting of wildlife, including pandas. During the Cultural Revolution , all studies and conservation activities on the pandas were stopped.
After the Chinese economic reform , demand for panda skins from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching for the black market , acts generally ignored by the local officials at the time. Though the Wolong National Nature Reserve was set up by the PRC government in to save the declining panda population, few advances in the conservation of pandas were made, owing to inexperience and insufficient knowledge of ecology.
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