Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zoosday Tuesday

I decided to add a new weekly feature to my blog called Zoosday Tuesday. This feature has absolutely nothing to do with writing. But since my love of animals was first inspired by my volunteer work at the zoo and in turn inspired my writing, I decided to share some of the wonderful things I've learned about animals as a volunteer docent at the Kansas City Zoo.

***The opinions shared on this blog are mine alone, and are not endorsed by the Kanas City Zoo.

The Giant Panda

To follow up last weeks post about the Red Panda, I'm going to talk about the Giant Panda. We don't have Giant Pandas at the Kansas City Zoo, only four zoos in the US are home to Giant Pandas, (the National Zoo in DC, Zoo Atlanta, The Memphis Zoo, and The San Diego Zoo.)

Giant Pandas live exclusively in China and are considered a Chinese national treasure. But there are believed to be only about 1700 left in the wild. The primary threat to these bears is overpopulation and deforestation. But the Giant Panda also has a very difficult reproductive cycle. Females only come into estrus for about 24 hours every year. If the males are unable to locate the females in that short time frame, they won't have a cub that year. (Also because they get so little practice, they often are unsuccessful when they do get together).

Researchers around the world have been working for decades to find the best ways to breed Giant Panda's in captivity. They use artificial insemintaion, ultrasound, and hand-rearing when necessary to help produce cubs. Only one panda cub was born in the US this year. You can see footage of the birth, and pictures of the tiny, hairless cub at : http://www.zooatlanta.org/home/animals/mammals/giant_panda/giant_panda_cub_gallery

Click to show "Giant panda" result 1
These cuties are another bamboo eating species, and they have to eat a lot of the low nutrition, high cellulous plant to get enough nourishment. (Ulike the Red Panda who eats mostly the leaves, these pandas eat everything including the culm and stalk.)

They have the smallest mother to cub ratio at birth of any placental mammal. A 225lb female panda gives birth to a 4oz cub. She doesn't eat, drink, or defecate for up to a week after birth, so she can hold the cub constantly to keep it warm.

Have you ever seen a Giant Panda in a zoo? If you have any questions about Giant Pandas, feel free to ask.


  1. Yes, yes I have. I stood in line to see the babies pandas at the San Diego zoo (a, um, few years back). They are so cute, but I hear they can be mean and vicious.

  2. Beautiful creatures, so sad there are so few of them.

  3. Awwww lovely!! I've never seen one in real but I think they're absolutely completely and utterly adorable!! I hope future generations will continue to be blessed with their presence!!! Thanks for the info on them! Take care

  4. It's so horrible that they're endangered. It's difficult to know what to do to help.


  5. We live near Atlanta and we've seen the Pandas! Nothing cuter in the world.

  6. My kids are obsessed with pandas, they loved your post.

  7. Pandas are so cute!!! I agree, if that is Mitchell on your left sidebar we do look alike!

  8. Oh, goody, animal posts ... you are so organized. My tuxedo cat looks like a panda bear :) hee hee ...

  9. Holly- I saw the adult male Gao Gao when I was at the San Diego zoo. He's amazing.

    Carole Ann, Kitty,and Jai- it is sad that pandas and a lot of other animals are so endangered. Anything we do to help the environment ultimately trickles down to the animals. China is investing huge sums into green technology and other ways to use renewable resources. And the Chinese hold these beautiful bears in very high esteem, so hopefully they'll make it.

    Matt- I'm so jealous of you. You'll have to go see new baby when he gets big enough to go on exibit.

    Jolene- have your kids checked out the panda cams? They have one for Atlanta and San Diego.

    Brian- you and Mitchell were separated at birth, I'm convinced.

  10. Vijaya- you're tuxedo cat is sooooo cute. Reminds me of a cat I had growing up. Can't beat the black and whites for cute factor, cats or bears (or penguins, or skunks, or...)

  11. Yes, I saw pandas at the National Zoo and in Atlanta. I love them! They look so sweet and adorable!

    Thanks for the post, Melissa. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.