China's Giant Pandas

China's Giant Pandas
By Shirley Li
Web Editor

Having existed on the earth for more than 8 million years, the Giant Panda is known as “the living fossil”. It is a symbol of friendship and an envoy of peace. Today, as a national treasure, the giant panda is a representative of wildlife protection and enjoys great popularity worldwide.

panda face


The giant Panda’s body type is enormous as a bear. It has a round head and short tail with a body length of 120 to 180cm, a weight of 80 to 125kg, and tail length of 10 to 20cm. In general, wild giant pandas are heavier than captive giant pandas, and male pandas’ figures are bigger than female’s. They are distinctive with their white coat with black patches around the eyes, over the ears, across the shoulders, and covering the legs. The giant pandas which live in the Qinling Mountains are bigger than those in other areas.

1. Body length 120~180cm
2. Shoulder height 65~70cm
3. Hip height 64~65cm
4. Chest girth 87~89cm
5. Hind leg length 12~20cm
6. Tail length 10~20cm
7. Wild giant panda weight 60~73kg (heaviest recorded 110kg )
8. Captive giant panda weight 80~125kg
9. Life expectancy in the wild 20 years
10. Life expectancy in captivity more than 30 years


The giant panda’s diet is very simple, 99% of what they eat is bamboo, and only 6 out of the 500 available types of bamboo. Bamboo is not very nutritious, so they eat a lot. A giant panda needs about 15 to 20 kg bamboo every day for its energy supply due to its enormous body size. Arrow bamboo is their favorite, which alternatively reproduces by sexual and vegetative propagation. It takes about 40 to 50 years in the sexual propagation, and then it will wither after flowering. It takes about a decade to re-grow. No doubt the Pandas will be lacking food because of this.

Life Expectancy

panda baby

The life expectancy of giant pandas is about 25 years. Some pandas in captivity survive above the age of 30.

In October of 2016, Hong Kong Ocean Park announced that the Giant Panda Jiajia had been euthanized. Jiajia had just celebrated her 38th birthday. This is equal to being 114 years old in human terms. Due to Jiajia’s bad health, the veterinary and the park committee decided to euthanize her after serious discussion. Jiajia was the oldest captive panda on earth.


Wild Giant Pandas can be found in deep valleys surrounded by mountains, terraces, and gentle slopes along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The locations are the southern Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi Province, the Min Mountains at the border of Gansu and Sichuan Provinces, the Liang Mountains, the Qionglai Mountains, the Daxiangling and the Xiaoxiangling Mountains in Sichuan Province.

These places have an altitude of 1,400 to 3,600 meters, covering 29,500km² in total. Here there is fertile soil, lush forest, green bamboo, and fresh air with gentle breezes and overall tranquility. The vegetation consists of deciduous broad-leaved forest, coniferous and broadleaved mixed forest, and hill-mountain bamboo forest in the sub-alpine coniferous forest zone. The annual precipitation is above 1000mm, and the yearly average temperature is 7 to 17℃. The snow accumulation is about 4 to 5 months.


According to a report in June of 2016, there were 1,864 giant pandas in the wild and 471 pandas in captivity, a total of 2,335. Compared with 2015, the number of wild giant pandas has increased by about 200. It is estimated that the wild giant panda numbers will increase to 2,200 in 2025.

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