A FIRST PANDA MADE KNOWN TO SCIENCE
Allurus fulgens, from south-western China and the eastern Himalayas, was formally described and named in 1825 by French naturalist Frederic Cuvier. Four years earlier, Major General Thomas Hardwicke had presented a paper to London’s Linnean Society describing and naming this species. However, Hardwicke’s paper was not published until 1827.
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In 2007, a fossilized skull of the pygmy giant panda (Ailuropoda microta) was discovered in the Jinyin limestone cave in Guangxi, southern China. The panda lived in tropical bamboo forests in southern China approximately 2-4 million years ago, during the late Pliocene epoch.
The pygmy giant panda was also the smallest giant panda. At 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long, it was smaller than today’s giant panda (A. melanoleuca) and in appearance resembled a fat domestic dog. From the distinctive wear pattern present on its teeth, scientists have suggested that it fed on bamboo shoots, like its larger, modern-day relative.
In terms of its evolutionary development and delineation, the giant panda diverged from other bears 18-25 million years ago. It is housed within its own subfamily, Ailuropodinae (meaning “black-and-white cat foot”).
At just 4.2 km^ (1.6 sq mi) – slightly larger than New York’s Central Park – the home range of female giant pandas in the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi Province, China, is the smallest home range recorded for a bear species.
Most pandas born in one year
The record year for panda births was 2006, during which 30 cubs were successfully born into captivity. The majority of the cubs were born at Wolong Panda Research Center in southwest China, but the 30th was born at Adventure World in Wakayama, Japan, on 23 Dec 2006.
Most expensive species in captivity
The global population of giant pandas is indigenous to – and owned by – China alone.
Four zoos in the US cities of San Diego, Atlanta, Washington and Memphis each pay an annual leasing fee of $1 m (£807,291) to the Chinese government for a pair of these rare creatures. If cubs are born, and twins sometimes result, a one-off payment of $600,000 (£484,374) per offspring must also be made. The money goes towards China’s panda conservation projects. A panda’s upkeep (including bamboo production and security) makes it five times more costly to maintain than the second most expensive species: the elephant.
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More than 99% of the giant panda’s diet consists of bamboo. The remaining <1% consists of other plant material, small birds or rodents and occasionally carrion. In captivity, it also eats eggs, fruit, honey and fish. Pandas actually derive little nutritional sustenance from bamboo, a very poor source of protein and energy, and must eat large quantities – up to 14 kg (30 lb 13 oz) of bamboo shoots per day – to remain healthy.
Written record of the lesser panda
References to the lesser or red panda (A. fulgens) exist in a 13th-century Chinese scroll. This document features a hunting scene depicting the species and its human pursuers. However, the lesser panda did not become known to western science until 1821, by way of a paper written by Major General Thomas Hardwicke (see left).
German zoologist Hugo Weigold purchased a giant panda cub in 1916 while in the Chinese province of Wassu, east of the Min River. At that time, Weigold was participating in the Stoetzner Expedition to western China and eastern Tibet, and had been searching for giant pandas without success. Despite his attempts to hand-rear the cub, however, it died shortly afterwards owing to a lack of suitable food.
Giant panda maintained outside China Su-Lin (meaning “a little bit of something precious”), a giant panda cub, was around nine weeks old when found abandoned in a tree hollow near the Min River of Sichuan Province, China, in 1936. It was discovered by American explorer Ruth Harkness, who took Su-Lin back with her to the USA in December of that year. Thought by Harkness j , to be a female, the cub was actually a male.
I ‘ Su-Lin was bottle-fed by Harkness and then, “ in Apr 1937, sold to Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. / He lived there until spring 1938, when he died from choking on a twig, according to the official post-mortem.
Giant pandas are very short-sighted
< OLDEST PANDA IN CAPTIVITY (EVER)
Jia Jia (“good”), a female giant panda, was born in 1978. She arrived at Ocean Park Hong Kong in Mar 1999 and remained there until passing away on 16 Oct 2016 at the age of 38. The average life-span of giant pandas is 18-20 years in the wild, and 30 years in captivity.
Wild pandas were once found all over southern and eastern China and well into Myanmar and Vietnam, but habitat loss and poaching have seen them become one of the world’s most endangered animals.
The Qinling giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) was formally recognized as a separate subspecies in 2005. Unlike the more familiar black-and-white fur of the giant panda (A. melanoleuca), the Qinling giant panda’s fur is dark brown and light brown. Its head is also rounder and smaller than that of the typical giant panda. Only 200-300 specimens are believed to exist in the wild.
A MOST RECENT BIRTH OF GIANT PANDA TRIPLETS
Only four cases of triplet births have ever been recorded for giant pandas living in captivity. The most recent such birth occurred on 29 Jul 2014 at Chimelong Paradise amusement park in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, south-eastern China. All three of the panda cubs were born within four hours of one another, and as of 6 Oct 2016 they were all still alive, after being hand-reared at the park. Their mother, Ju Xiao, had been artificially impregnated in Mar 2014.
< FIRST GIANT PANDA BORN IN CAPTIVITY
On 9 Sep 1963, a male giant panda named Ming-Ming (meaning “bright”) became the first of his species to be born in captivity. His birth took place at Beijing Zoo in China. Ming-Ming’s father was named Pi-Pi and his mother was Li-Li.
Almost exactly one year later, on 4 Sep 1964, Li-Li gave birth to a second cub. The newborn panda was female and was named Lin-Lin (meaning “pretty jade”).
A LARGEST GIANT PANDA HABITAT
Located in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains of Sichuan Province, China, the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries represent the largest contiguous habitat of the giant panda. More than 30% of the world panda population lives in this 9,245-km^ (3,569-sq-mi) network of nature reserves and scenic parks. In 2006, the area was officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.