What’s Black and White and Asian at the same time? If you’re thinking of Rich Brian, that’s the wrong answer. The right answer is a panda. The Giant Panda, to be exact. People around the world have always loved panda bears. We love them so much that we even made movies and snacks that have a panda on them.
But even with their popularity, they are still endangered. Illegal poaching and destruction of its habitats have caused pandas to hang by a thread. With just about 2,000 individuals left in the wild and sanctuaries, they might go extinct if left unchecked. Here are some fascinating panda facts you can spread to raise awareness.
Chinese Ambassadors for Life
If you want to know more about these cuddly giants, you can check out these panda facts. The giant panda is one of the two national symbols of China, opposite the Chinese Dragon. While the Dragon symbolizes power and ferocity, the giant panda symbolizes peace and friendship. That is why these animals are sent as diplomatic gifts to other nations, hence the term ‘Panda diplomacy.’
Panda diplomacy started way back during the 6th century, until today. Way back, pandas are gifts to other countries, free of charge. But in the early ’80s, China stopped giving them away for free since their numbers were dwindling. Instead, they let other countries borrow the pandas for a hefty price.
These loaning arrangements usually last up to 10 years. After that, they return the pandas to their homeland. The Chinese government owns all the pandas on the planet. Part of the loaning agreement even says that the cubs born during the loaning period are officially Chinese property. So when the lending time is up, the newborns are returned to China too. How’s that for crazy panda facts?
Giant Ponya Bears?
Once upon a time, the Chinese people had a hard time naming the panda bear. Being China’s symbol, the different panda names have appeared throughout early historical writings. Examples of these names were bearcat, spotted bear, and bamboo bear.
The ancient Chinese people almost hit the mark, though. The panda’s name comes from the Nepalese term ‘Nigalya Ponya, ‘ which means ‘eater of bamboo.’ The ‘Ponya’ part, later on, became the ‘panda,’ and the name stuck since then. It might also be why the Red Panda is called a panda, even if it doesn’t look like a bear since its diet also consists of bamboo, just like our giant ‘ponya’ bears.
Shiny Giant Pandas
If you’ve played the Pokemon games before, you’ll know what the heading means. For those who are unfamiliar, let me explain. In the Pokemon games, there is a rare chance you’ll encounter a pokemon’s shiny variant. You’ll know it’s a shiny variant because their color is different, usually a contrast, from the original.
The giant pandas also have a subspecies that looks like a shiny version of them. They are called Qinling Pandas. These pandas are in the Qinling Mountains at more than 3,000 up to almost 10,000 feet. They have big molars and smaller skulls than our regular pandas, but the most noticeable difference is that they have white and light brown fur.
Vegetarian by Choice
Naturally, bears eat both meat and plants. Some species of bears are entirely carnivorous like the polar bear, and some are omnivores like the grizzly bear. So since the panda is a bear, then one can conclude that pandas are omnivores too. And that is not wrong but also not entirely accurate at the same time.
Pandas that are kept in captivity do have omnivorous menus. Since they are being cared for by their handlers, these pandas are given fish and other produce to have a balanced diet. But, pandas in the wild have a different story. Their diet contains 99% of bamboo, meaning they are herbivores in their natural environment.
The giant pandas consume large amounts of bamboo to make up for the plant’s bad nutritional value. It also helps that they have a particular digestive system. Pandas have a short gut that is commonly found in carnivores. But due to its unique construction, it allows them to metabolize every nutrient they need to survive.
Pandas were thought to have magical abilities by the ancient Chinese. This came up when the Chinese people believed that the emperor was the embodiment of divinity. Since pandas were found roaming in the emperor’s garden, they also regarded the panda as semi-divine. But, that’s not even close to why pandas are magical.
Bears only have five fingers or toes on each foot, and they can’t grab stuff. But you’ve seen pandas grip bamboo, right? So how do they do that if they don’t have opposable thumbs? Pandas have a distinctive bone found in their paws.
On their wrist is a sixth bone that functions as a human thumb that the panda uses to hold their bamboo. It’s almost like they evolved themselves to have a thumb so they can enjoy their favorite snack. Talk about being semi-divine, right?
The Giant Panda is an awe-inspiring creature that needs to live longer. Spreading fascinating facts about them will help spread awareness of how cute, cuddly, and interesting they are and how important they are like any other creature. Making them popular helps in their conservation. So go forth and tell others these fascinating facts about Giant Pandas.