Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Facts about Pandas

Today I decided to write about one of my favorite topics: Pandas. After numerous elementary school reports about these endangered mammals, I feel like I have a certain amount of expertise to off. Also, I do want to plug the upcoming highly entertaining book, 100 Facts About Pandas.




Everyone knows that Giant Pandas are native to China, and live in several zoos around the world (including San Diego, National, and Atlanta). They eat bamboo (and the occasional bamboo rat), and are otherwise fairly sedentary.

There was a long ranging debate about how exactly to categorize them. Scientists weren't sure if they were actually bears, raccoons, or in a class of their own. Their cousins, the Red Pandas, bear a far greater resemblance to raccoons. But molecular research finally concluded that pandas are part of the Ursidae family, so yes, they are panda bears.




While in pop culture, there are plenty of jokes about how pandas won't breed to save their species, it's in fact incredibly difficult for them. Sometimes I just don't understand how nature works, keeping such cute creatures so rare. So the problem turns out to be that female pandas only ovulate once a year, and are only fertile for a few days around that time. So they have to be impregnated within a couple of days a year to even have a chance at conception. Can't help but thinking the human race would be better off with those odds.

So when a panda baby actual makes it into the world, they are super tiny pink hairless ball of cuteness, weighing only 3-5 ounces. Imagine being a big rolly-polly 250lb pandas mama, trying not to accidentally crush that thing. It's another couple of months before the baby opens its eyes, and longer before they can move on their own. But before long, they become the adorable little sneezing creatures you've come to know and love.



What else would you like to know about pandas? Here are some interesting bullet points for you:










And now an off color panda joke for anyone who enjoys that kind of thing. For everyone else, the usual one:

A Panda bear walks into a restaurant. He orders a meal and eats it. After politely paying for his meal, he pulls out a gun and shoots it in the air. He immediately walks out the door.
"Why did you do that?" hollered the confused waitress.
Looking back over his shoulder the panda says "I'm a panda". "Look it up in the dictionary."
The waitress locates the dictionary on her bosses desk and searches for the definition of panda bear. Finding it she reads,
"Panda Bear - A large black and white bear like mammal native to the far east. Eats shoots and leaves."

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