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The Panda Bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Also known as the Giant Panda, or just the Panda. The panda is a very complex animal, with a lot of information about it. So let's just dive on in, and see what we can learn about this fascinating animal.

Physical Description and Behavior

The panda is a very popular animal which is well known for their appearance. They have a white lower body, as well as a white neck and head. Their 4 legs are all black, as is their upper body, their ears, and their eyes. It is unknown why this pattern exists, but there is speculation that it helps the bears hide from predators in their usually rocky and snowy environment.

While they are classified as a carnivore, their diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo. In fact, the Giant Panda still has the digestive system of a carnivore, and cannot fully digest bamboo, leading it to have to eat pretty much all day. Also, their young are born with sterile intestines and have to eat their mother's poop in order to get the proper gut bacteria. You're welcome for the pleasant imagery.

It is believed that their desire for eating primarily bamboo came about due to a genetic change that prevented them from utilizing Umami taste receptors. As a result of no longer tasting meat, they stopped fully consuming it. But there is some contention about this, as some evidence also suggests that they started eating bamboo long before losing this receptor.

Habitat and Location

The Giant Panda can be found in a few places in China. In the wild, they are only found in isolated mountainous regions in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Most living individuals probably reside in zoos and other places.

They are considered Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List. In fact, they only have as low as 500 individuals left in their species, and it is very hard to get them to reproduce. However, their population is indeed growing, albeit fairly slowly.

Watch this video by SciShow to learn more about this awesome teddy.

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