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Panda Lifestyle

Natural History Project

A Day in the Life

7:50 am – Sunrise. Most of the panda bears begin to stir, some being very active while others wonder aimlessly and nap wherever they deem fit, usually every couple of feet or in a tree.

9:00 am – By this time most of the baby panda bears are active, walking around or munching on bamboo. Within this hour a keeper will come through the enclosure, cleaning any poop piles, fallen branches or scattered toys.

10:00 am – Breakfast time. The keeper walks around giving each baby panda bear some stalks of bamboo. Also, the cubs love to play with the keepers during this time by chasing them or rolling around.

11:00 am – For most of the day the Giant Panda Bear babies will sleep, eat, and sometimes play with others. Usually they will nap in the tops of trees or on the man made log platforms.

4:30 pm – By this time of the day the panda’s are usually all sleeping and won’t be revived of energy until after dinner time. Keepers will come into the enclosures cleaning up any messes or old bamboo stalks.

5:00 pm – Dinner time. After cleaning up the enclosures, keepers will replace the old bamboo stalks with fresh ones. The Giant Panda Bear cubs will munch on these throughout the night, or whenever hungry.

 

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“Warm Sun on my Belly”

Giant panda bears spend half their day eating and the other half sleeping. Throughout the past few weeks I have noticed that the baby panda bears often lay on their backs while sleeping. They enjoy feeling the heat of the sun on their bellies. They remind me a middle aged man lounging on the beach, enjoying themselves.

Bamboo….really that’s it?

“Panda,” the name, might have been derived from poonya, the Nepalese word meaning “bamboo-eating animal” or “plant-eating animal.”

Giant Pandas are the only living beings able to eat bamboo and survive, even thrive, off it. There are many adaptations panda bears have which allow them to consume solely bamboo.

Panda Bear’s spend an average of 14 to 16 hours eating bamboo each day. That’s a life I wish to live, spending 15 hours a day eating, anyone else? In order to get enough of the nutrients needed for a panda bear to survive they must eat for most of the time they are awake. All this eating adds up to be around 25 to 30 pounds of bamboo consumed per day. Even though panda bears do not hibernate, the amount of bamboo they eat increases to around 100 pounds during the spring months.

Pandas have two sets of 42 teeth and a special lining on their throats, protecting them from bamboo splinters. Their jaw and check muscles are powerful enough to chew an aluminum dish into tiny pieces, giving them the ability to bite through thick stalks of bamboo. Humans have trouble cutting into these same stalks with axes, much less our mouths.

The giant panda has some hidden talents, much like humans, when it comes to bamboo. They can peel and eat a bamboo shoot all in 40 seconds. Pandas have an excellent sense of smell. They smell well enough to detect the best bamboo stalks in the dead of night. Also, their one wrist bone is modified, having evolved into a “thumb” which they use to hold bamboo stalks.

Unfortunately, bamboo has a flowering cycle every 30 to 120 years. After bamboo flowers the entire species dies, we call this bamboo dieback, and it takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years for the bamboo to grow back. In the past, pandas have migrated from area to area, but recently that is becoming increasing difficult. Humans are to blame, when aren’t we? Panda bears have lost a great portion of their habitat to humans for logging or agriculture or infrastructure purposes. China tried to fight this by creating a law in 1998 that would ban logging in the pandas’ habitat, but railroads and roadways are still being built through the pandas’ home. There are still instances of illegal logging, which needs to end. You can do your part by signing this petition.

Introducing the Babies to the Internet…

Let’s give some background information on the Panda Bears I have, and will be continuing to observe for the past two weeks, and upcoming six. There are about 20 pandas in the Gengda Wolong Panda Center, China. Wolong Panda Center is located in the 494,210-acre Wolong Nature Reserve, which is divided into two sections, Panda research and captive breeding and reintroduction into the wild. The original center had been severely damaged during the 2008 earthquake, now the new center has multiple reintroduction areas and enclosures of varying sizes for different levels of training, a large 680-acre bamboo forest, a large research laboratory and a Panda Hospital. I watch the panda cam of the baby pandas in the Happiness Village yard, which currently houses nine pandas:

Au’au, meaning pride, is a male born in August of 2010 who is a bit of a loner and enjoys little interaction with the other pandas.

Fengfeng, “peak,” is Au’au’s twin sister. She likes people and enjoys company, the opposite of her twin brother, and she has a lively personality.

Haohao is a male born in the middle of August of 2010. He is a very nice panda with a good temperament and a sweet personality.

Shenbin, meaning gentleman, is one of the heavier babies, weighing in at 73 kg. She was born on August 20th of 2009 and enjoys bamboo sticks, apples and carrots.

One of the older panda’s in this enclosure is Tai Shan, otherwise known as Butterstick. He was born in July of 2005 and is a very personable panda but enjoys some quiet time by himself.

Yaoman is Yaoxin’s twin sister who was born on September 27th, 2009. She weighs 66 kg and enjoys bamboo, specifically the bamboo sticks.

Yaoxin, Yamon’s twin sister, also enjoys bamboo sticks in addition to apples and carrots.

Zhaoyang, “morning sun,” was born toward the of July in 2010. He is a smaller male, weighing only 33.6 kg, has a nice temperament, and likes eating carrots.

“Spring,” otherwise known as Zhichun, is the smallest panda in this enclosure, weighing only 22 kg. She was born on October 19th, 2010, making her the youngest. Although the youngest she is very intelligent, she’s shy but has a strong personality.

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