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Panda Bear Essay

Example of a Descriptive essay on Environment about:

panda / extinction / environment / china / zoo / starvation

 

Title: The extinction of panda bears

 

Introduction

 

The Panda is a large mammal which is about the same size as a Black Bear. Giant pandas bears have a massive head, heavy body, short tail, rounded ears and plantigrade feet (both heel and toe make contact with the ground when walking in a manner similar to humans). Adult Pandas grow to be about 5-6 feet high. They will weigh up to 276 pounds and males weighing 10% to 20% more than females. Giant pandas, with their short claws, are capable of climbing trees very easily and effortless.

With few other enemies other than people, the lifespan of a wild Panda is about 25 years or more. The head of a Panda is very large and has developed special molars for chewing plants and other thinks they like to eat.  It has powerful muscles which extend from the top of its head to the jaws giving it the ability to crush very tough stalks.

The basic fur color of the giant panda is white with black eye patches, ears, legs, feet, chest, and shoulders. Within its natural environment (pandas live in the deep forest and at upper elevations, snow and rock), its mottled coloring provides camouflage. There is also speculation that its striking colour patterns may be a clear message to other pandas to stay away from ones territory.

The fur of the giant panda is thick and coarse. It consists of a coarse outer layer and a very dense, wooly-like underfur. To the touch, the fur feels oily. This oily protective coating helps and protects pandas from the cool and damp climate in which they live (Suzuki, 2008, p.3).

Earliest Pandas were found in the ice age, about 1 to 3 million years ago. Fossils of Pandas have been found in Burma, Vietnam, and China. The closest relative to giant Panda is the Red Panda or lesser Panda, which occurs in India, Nepal, and China. The Red Panda is rather small, it lives mostly on trees and eats roots, fruits, nuts and insects for food. Many scientists classify Pandas as raccoons rather than bears. In their natural place of inhabitance, their main predators are snow leopards and starvation when bamboo flowers are also common occurrence.

On average, Panda spends about 14 hours a day looking for food.
When pandas are born they are blind and very small. They weigh from 3 to 4 1/2 ounces which is about the size of a chipmunk. They start out with fine white fur and will get the correct colored fur within a month of birth or some time later. Giant panda cubs are eating bamboo by the time they are 5 to 6 months old and are fully weaned by the time they are 9 months of age. At one year of age, the cubs normally weigh is compared with 75 pounds of bamboo.

Adult Pandas can eat as much of bamboo as they can in hours time. Occasionally, Pandas eat grass, bark, stem, leaf, vine, tree fungus and some wild roots. Sometimes they also catch or scavenge upon bamboo rats. Giant Pandas don't hibernate in the winter. They continue to eat Bamboo and thrive in the area.

General discussion

The Panda bear is a magnificent creature. In Chinese culture this animal symbolizes peace, friendship, companionship, closeness.

Interesting facts about pandas

  • Pandas can eat more than 10,000 kilograms of bamboo a day.
    • The mother panda can only take care of the baby panda for half a year (6 months).
    • If all the bamboo is covered in snow the pandas will eat little mice or uncovered leaves.
    • Pandas are pink when they are born.
    • These black-and-white bears eat primarily bamboo although they also have been known to eat other plants, fish, pika and other small rodents.
    • There are about 110 pandas in captivity, mainly in China. There are seven in the United States- Zoo Atlanta, and The National Zoo each has a pair. The pair in San Diego also has a small cub. There are three females at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City. There are also pandas in Japan, Spain, Germany, France and South Korea.
    • People can't tell if a baby panda is a girl or a boy for four years.
    • The mother panda only has one baby every two years.
    • Pandas are almost becoming extinct. They are endangered because people are cutting down the bamboo that pandas eat to make farms.
    • To the Chinese, Pandas are symbols of peace and friendship. To the rest of the world, they are adorable bears (Marren, 2007, p.8).

Although many zoos are persistently studying the habits of the Giant Pandas and hoping to find ways to encourage them to mate and breed; it is not an easy task. Unfortunately, the Giant Panda continues to be listed on the endangered species list.

Giant Pandas have a very low reproductive rate and a very high infant mortality rate in the wild but that is not the case for those Giant Pandas living in captivity. Those pandas that live in captivity have much higher rate of infant survival due to the fact that there are no predators or lack of food. This, for sure, allows them to become stronger more quick and to grow in a safe environment.

The Giant Pandas have captured the hearts of many people, young and old around the world. However, in today’s world, this beautiful species is endangered. An endangered species is one that is near extinction.

No one is sure how many of the Giant Pandas are left but the estimated amount is only a mere 800 that are left living in the wild and there are about 100 Giant Pandas that are living in captivity in the zoo environment. Even with all of the efforts of many people worldwide, the Giant Pandas are endangered and on the verge of becoming extinct (Johnson, 2007, p. 14).

Pandas are becoming extinct

Pandas are among the most seriously endangered species alive today. Until recently, Giant Pandas were disappearing at an alarming rate. As human populations expand, bamboo forests, the Giant Panda's natural habitat shrinks and they have nothing to eat. Combined with logging and the natural dying out of bamboo forests, pandas are forced to seek new areas of bamboo, but many of them fail to do it and end up dying of starvation instead. China's giant pandas for a long time have been threatened with extinction, suffering from low birth rates and human encroachment on their place of inhabitants. Now they are facing a new threat - starvation.

China's state-run media says that panda’s favorite food, which is arrow bamboo, is beginning to die off. It is part of a cycle that happens every sixty years and the new crop will take around ten years to mature. Last time the bamboo bloomed was in the 1980’s and then approximately two hundred and fifty giant pandas died of starvation.

For years, all of the above circumstances led to a steady decrease in the known population of Giant Pandas living in the wild. Frequent census efforts showed the problem rapidly worsening, but in 2002, a census finally showed the first encouraging signs that the decline was beginning to reverse itself (Berlins, 2008, p.9).

Some of the steps taken to bring about this reversal were:
1. Laws enacted declaring panda’s place of inhabitance off-limits to hunting, logging, and other commercial development. Some areas were designated as panda reserves.
2. China and several other countries have experimented with captive breeding. It took years before the first captive baby pandas were born, but since that time, the number has been constantly increasing. Special incubators were developed to assure the fragile baby pandas a better chance of survival. Scientists are now working to find nutritional supplements that can be substituted for bamboo, the current food essential to pandas.
3. Constant research is being done to insure the survival of these beautiful animals, but research is expensive (Shilling, 2008, p. 10).

Conclusion

The Panda is such a majestic creature. It is difficult to imagine wild world without pandas around in the forests. And that is why more immediate measures and actions should be taken to provide better living conditions and protect those animals. Until people realize that Pandas are such great creatures and that they deserve home, the Pandas will be in danger of extinction. Many measures have already been taken to prevent the extinction of that magnificent animal like the hunt forbidding, but still it is not enough.

However, the one thing that is working against those who are struggling to help this endangered species is the fact that the Giant Panda can not just live in isolated areas. They need large areas to roam where the food they require is readily available to them. Although China is making every effort to assist the Giant Panda and help this endangered species, there is still a long road ahead for this beautiful creature and much more work is going to be needed in keeping the Giant Panda from becoming extinct. If pandas are not allowed to live and breed in the wild without outside interventions, they will soon be extinct (Dettman, 2008, p.38). In saving the forests from destruction, we could save pandas from verge of extinction.

 

 

References

Berlins M. (2008). Pandas become extinct. The Guardian, Vol.6, p.9.

Dettman R. (2008).The extinction of panda. The advertiser, vol.9, pp.38.

Johnson G.92007).Giant pandas disappear. National post, vol.4, p.14.

Marren P. (2007). The majestic creature. The independent, vol.16, p.8.

Shilling J. ((2008). Threat of extinction. The Times, vol.3, p.10.

Suzuki D. (2008). Panda bears, Victoria News, vol.6, p.3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant pandas are bears that are native to China, where they are considered a national treasure. Even with this exalted status, giant pandas are endangered: only about 1,600 live in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). About 100 live in zoos around the world.

Size & description

Also called great pandas, parti-colored bears, bamboo bears and white bears, giant pandas are distinguished from other pandas by their large size and black-and-white coloring. The bold coloring may provide camouflage, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.  

Giant pandas live up to their name. They are 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall and weigh up to 300 lbs. (136 kilograms), according to the National Geographic, about the same as an American black bear. By comparison, their distant relatives, red pandas, are only 20 to 26 inches (50 to 65 cm) tall and weigh 12 to 20 lbs. (5.4 to 9 kg).

Habitat

In the wild, giant pandas are only found in the remote, mountainous regions of central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, according to the National Zoo. In this area, there are cool, wet bamboo forests that are perfect for the giant panda's needs. Giant pandas make their dens from hollowed-out logs or stumps of conifer trees found within the forest. 

 

Diet

A giant panda's appetite for bamboo is insatiable. They eat bamboo 12 hours a day. That adds up to 28 lbs. (12.5 kg) of bamboo each day, according to National Geographic. But one reason they eat so much is that bamboo is low in nutrients, according to the San Diego Zoo. Giant pandas also eat rodents, fish, insects and birds. Eating both vegetation and meat makes these pandas omnivores.

The giant panda's stomach is ideal for digesting bamboo. The walls of the stomach are extra-muscular to digest the wood of the bamboo. The stomach is also covered inside with mucus that prevents it from being punctured by splinters.

Habits 

Giant pandas are loners. They dislike being around other pandas so much that they have a heightened sense of smell that lets them know when another panda is nearby so it can be avoided, according to the National Geographic. If another giant panda does get close, the two will end up swatting and growling at each other. Sometimes they will even bite each other. 

On average, a giant panda's territory is about 1.9 square miles (5 square kilometers). To mark their territory, giant pandas secrete a waxy scent marker that they rub on their territory. Other giant pandas can tell the sex, age, reproductive condition, social status and more from the scent marker, according to the San Diego Zoo.

The only time that these pandas seek each other out is during mating season. Males will use their smelling ability to find a female when they are ready to mate.

 

Offspring

Giant pandas mate in the spring. After mating, the female will be pregnant for 100 to 180 days. Then, she will give birth to one or two cubs. Cubs weigh only 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 142 grams) when they are born, according to the San Diego Zoo and are completely blind at birth. 

At 18 months, the cub is weaned and sent to live on its own. By the time the females are four to five years old and the males are six to seven years old, the cubs are fully mature. [Gallery: Baby Panda Pics]

Classification/taxonomy 

Giant pandas are indeed bears. For many years, scientists had wondered whether pandas were a type of bear, raccoon or something else. However, studies of panda DNA have confirmed the panda's relationship with bears, according to the San Diego Zoo.

The taxonomy of giant pandas, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), is:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Subkingdom: Bilateria  
  • Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia  
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Infraphylum: Gnathostomata  
  • Superclass: Tetrapoda  
  • Class: Mammalia 
  • Subclass: Theria 
  • Infraclass: Eutheria 
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Suborder: Caniformia 
  • Family: Ursidae 
  • Genus & speciesAiluropoda melanoleuca

Conservation status

The IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species categorizes giant pandas as endangered. This is an improvement. In the 1980s, giant pandas were listed as rare by the IUCN. As of 2008, when the most recent assessment was made, there was "little doubt" that there were less than 2,500 mature giant pandas in the wild. A survey in 2002 indicated a total population of about 1,600 individuals. National Geographic estimates that 100 giant pandas live in zoos. 

Steps are being taken to save them, though. There are 50 panda reserves in China that protect around 45 percent of the giant panda's habitat, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Other facts

Giant pandas have a special bone that extends from their wrists called a “pseudo-thumb,” according to the San Diego Zoo. They use the pseudo-thumb to hold and manipulate bamboo.

Giant pandas will climb 13,000 feet (3,962 m) up the mountains of their home area to feed on higher slopes in the summer, according to the National Geographic.

Male pandas, like many other mammals (but not humans) have a baculum, a bony rod in the soft tissue of the penis. In most bears, it is straight and directed forward. However, in giant pandas, it is S-shaped and directed backward, according to the Animal Diversity Web.

Additional resources