by on 2016-06-23 19:19:21
Giant pandas are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized,but rarest animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts. They live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains. Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. Torrential rains or dense mist throughout the year characterizes these forests, often shrouded in heavy clouds.
A giant panda is bear-like in shape. It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white (but the brown fur pandas found in Qinling mountain ranges), some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage into their shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. Many people find these chunky, lumbering animals to be cute, but giant pandas can be as dangerous as any other bear.
About the size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds. Scientists aren't sure how long giant pandas live in the wild, but they are sure it's shorter than life spans in zoos. Chinese scientists have reported zoo pandas as old as 35. A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively (99%) bamboo. The balance consists of other grasses and occasional small rodents or musk deer fawns. In zoos, giant pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, rice gruel, a special high-fiber biscuit, carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes.
There is great pressure for pandas population, for human economic activity, ecosystem deterioration, natural enemies, low reproductive rate, inbreeding all limit the bamboo supply and life cycle, loss of genetic diversity, diseases etc. The situation is so bad that everyone needs to make an effort to proteact them.
Mei Yan has been working at the Chengdu Research Base which breeds Giant Pandas for the past eight years. As of now, she helps feed 50 pandas.
Born in 1986, Mei is a typical Chengdu girl, optimistic, cheerful with a smile similar to that of a cute panda
Caring for pandas is hard work. Every day, she has to prepare bamboo for the pandas to eat and then clear away hundred kilos of fecal matter. An adult giant panda eats around 100 kilos of bamboo shoots. Young pandas may look cute, but have sharp claws and teeth. Often Mei is bitten and scratched by the pandas. But despite the problems, Mei still feels a great sense of accomplishment, watching the cubs grow. "They are like my family," she says.
Photos of pandas are seen in Mei's mobile phone.