The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Giant Panda

Photo from the Creative Commons courtesy of Chen Wu from Shanghai, China

Photo from the Creative Commons courtesy of Chen Wu from Shanghai, China

Scientific Name:  Ailuropoda melanoleuca

Ailuropoda” means black and white panda foot.  “Melano” means black or darkness of hair.  “Leuca” means white or colorless.

Where Giant Pandas Live: 

Giant pandas prefer mountainous, mixed coniferous and broadleaf forests with heavy vegetative cover and that has plentiful bamboo.  They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development decreased giant panda habitat to mountainous areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, and Shanxi in the central part of China.

china-giant-panda-map-habitat-range-history-wwf

What Giant Pandas Eat: 

Bamboo is 99 percent of the giant panda’s natural diet.  One giant panda can eat 31 to 85 pounds of bamboo or approximately 2,232 bamboo stem parts in one day.  Giant pandas must spend 10-12 hours feeding daily because only about 17% of the nutrients found in the leaves and stalks are digested. What bamboo lacks in nutritional quality, giant pandas make up for by eating in quantity.  Giant pandas also have an extra digit for tearing and handling bamboo and a stomach that has several adaptations for digesting bamboo in spite of a design otherwise for meat-eating, like that found in the other bear species.

How Long Giant Pandas Live:  20-30 years

Why Giant Pandas are Awesome:

The giant panda has the largest molars of any carnivore and an extra molar in their lower jaw.  Coupled with strong jaws, they are able to slice and crush tough plants stems up to 4 centimeters in diameter.  And they never hibernate, unlike other bears. 

Why We Care about Giant Pandas: 

The giant panda is the rarest of all eight species of bears in existence today.  There are only an estimated 1000-2000 in the wild.  Giant pandas have an important role in bamboo seed distribution in the ecosystem.  Therefore, as giant panda numbers decrease so does the bamboo, creating a cycle that makes it increasingly difficult for wild giant pandas to find food.

Please take a moment to view a video clip of giant pandas in the wild from BBC Wildlife, narrated by the beloved Sir David Attenborough.

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by in Bears, Giant Panda, Mammals, Maymie Higgins, Wildlife.
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