There are enough fun facts about pandas to fill an entire textbook. Yet, to make things easy for you, we’ve boiled these dozens of facts down to eight. Pandas are intelligent, easy-going creatures that have faced lots of adversity in the past 100 years. Yet, thanks to animal-lovers, scientists, and zookeepers, these guys have made a comeback! Continue reading to learn more about these resilient creatures and what the future may hold.
8. They're Master Tree Climbers and Swimmers
Despite clocking in at over 150 pounds, pandas are impressively agile! They easily scale trees and enjoy a good swim. At about five months old, they learn to ascend trees quickly, evade predators, escape the scorching summer heat, or simply gain a better view of their surroundings.
Remarkably, they've been observed to ascend as high as 4,000 meters; that’s the same height as Mount Kilimanjaro’s base! You won’t see a panda alongside animals in the wilds of Africa, however; they’re native to central China.
7. They Communicate Through Scent Marking
Ever seen a dog lift its leg and pee on a fire hydrant? It’s marking its territory. Pandas do something similar. They leave scent markers through urine or gland secretions on trees, rocks, or even snow. In doing so, they leave indicators of their physical health and mark territorial boundaries.
The height of a scent marker on a tree tells female pandas 1,000 words. It’s basically a male’s calling card as though to say: “Look how high I can go!”
6. They Live Longer Than Most Bears
Pandas have a relatively long lifespan, outliving many other bear species. In their natural wild habitats, they can live up to 20 years. Matters change while in captivity. Here, with medical care and a consistent supply of food, these black-and-white cuties can easily exceed the 30-year mark!
Here’s some great news. Pandas in captivity were able to bring their species’ number from the brink of extinction. With human intervention, these bears are no longer considered an endangered species.
5. They Exhibit Interesting Social Behaviors
Pandas are known for their solitude. But make no mistake––they also display a range of intriguing social behaviors. They communicate through an array of vocalizations. They might not roar like a grizzly bear, but they’re known to:
Each of these sounds carries a different meaning. Obviously, a growl means that a panda feels threatened or senses danger. However, a female panda may squeak and make high-pitched sounds to let nearby males know that she’s ready to mate.
4. They Have a Strong Sense of Spatial Memory
You know the saying “an elephant never forgets”? To some extent, the same applies to pandas! These guys have great memories.
Studies show that they’re able to remember their favorite dining and resting spots, allowing them to navigate back even after long periods of absence. Having a good memory helps pandas locate their favorite snacks, make the most of their foraging skills, and increase their chances of survival when times get tough.
3. They Exhibit Playful Behaviors
Pandas are well known for their playful nature, especially as cubs. Cubs love to wrestle, somersault, and slide down slopes. They have been observed to spend up to 13 hours a day playing! These playful behaviors are key to their physical development and social interaction, helping them to develop the strength and skills needed for survival in the wild. Even adult pandas occasionally exhibit playful behaviors, a sign of their overall well-being and contentment.
2. They Are a Symbol of Conservation
Giant pandas aren't just cute and cuddly; they're also global icons for conservation. In China alone, more than 35 panda reserves have been established, dedicated to safeguarding these captivating creatures. Many of these reserves have been around since the 1960s. That’s right; saving the noble panda spans back at least six decades!
Think of these reserves as safe havens, keeping pandas tucked away from human interruptions and preserving their natural environment. However, although pandas have been saved from extinction, as animal-lovers, we must do our part to keep these guys around. Some easy things you can do include visiting reputable zoos, educating others on conservation, and donating to your favorite panda reserve.
1. Pandas Reproduce Slowly. Very Slowly.
Habitat destruction, poaching, and the illegal animal trade have threatened pandas. But there’s another reason why there are only 1,800 pandas in the wild; they reproduce slowly. Very, very slowly. And here’s why.
Female pandas are only fertile for 48 to 72 hours a year. If a female doesn’t mate with a male within that period, that’s it––she’s not having a baby that year. This is why whenever a panda cub is born in captivity, there’s a lot of fanfare. Just this past year, a zoo in South Korea celebrated the birth of two panda cubs––twins! Since July 2023, thousands of well-wishers have come to pay tribute to mommy Ai Bao and her two girls.
So, there you have it! Our adorable panda friends are not just about bamboo feasts and laid-back lounging. They are incredibly versatile, incredibly resilient, and just plain incredible!