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Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) Fact Sheet, 2001  

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Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) Fact Sheet, 2001

Image credit: San Diego Zoo. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer (Date): David 1869

Kingdon: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Sub-family: Ailuropodinae

Genus: Ailuropoda

Species: A. melanoleuca

Body Length: 1,200-1,500 mm (4-5 ft)

Tail Length: 127 mm (5 in)

Weight: 75-160 kg (165-353 lbs)

Pelage: Thick & woolly; white with black eye patches, ears, legs and band across back (skin is pigmented).

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Restricted; found in 6 small areas of Sichuan,Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces of Southwest China.

Habitat: Old growth montane forests with dense bamboo stands.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable (as of September 2016)

CITES: Appendix: I

Wild population:  c. 1,600 pandas according to a 2000-2002 survey.

Captive population: 341 individuals (as of 10 Nov. 2012), most within China. 3 in the care of San Diego Zoo (as of 28 May 2015).

Locomotion: Live on the ground but can climb trees well.

Activity Cycle: Active 14.2 hrs/day (dawn and dusk); do not hibernate.

Social Groups: Solitary except from March to May for breeding.

Communication: Scent-marking, vocalizations.

Diet: Over 99% bamboo shoots and roots; 1% opportunistic small rodents, carrion, other plants.

Unattended young susceptible to yellow-throated martin, weasel and golden cat. Adults protected, poaching no longer a major threat.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Similar for both sexes: 4.5-6.5 years.

Gestation: 84-184 days (variation due to delayed implantation).

Litter Size: 1 or 2 (very rarely 3). Usually only one is raised in wild.

Birth weight: 85-140 grams (extremely low neonatal/maternal weight ratio).

Birth coat: Sparse white fur; adult coloration by end of first month.

Age at Weaning: Fully weaned at 18-24 months in wild.

Longevity: Estimated 30 years in captivity, 20 in wild.

Feature Facts: Giant pandas belong to the bear  family but unlike other bears, pandas eat  mostly plants, bamboo in particular. Recent  sequencing of the panda genome reveals that genes for tasting meat were lost in the last 4
 million years as they evolved their vegetarian habits.

Society Press: In 1987-1988 two pandas visited San Diego for 200 days. In 1996 a 12-year breeding loan was begun. Male Shi Shi (wild-born in Sichuan) and female Bai Yun (born in the Wolong Conservation Center and raised by her mother) arrived on 9/10/96. Their first offspring, a female, Hua Mei, was born 8/21/99 via artificial insemination. Hua Mei returned to China in 2004 at the age of five. She gave birth to twins late that year. In 2012, Bai Yun gave birth to a son, Xiao Liwu at the San Diego Zoo.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2001-2015 San Diego Zoo Global. Created in 2001, minor revisions in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015. IUCN Status update, September 2016.

How to cite: Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) Fact Sheet, 2001. c2001-2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. (note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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