Giant Panda

Di Di, an 8 months old male Giant panda, born 5.10.1994 in Wolong, China. Project number: CN0005. rel=
Di Di, an 8 months old male Giant panda, born 5.10.1994 in Wolong, China. Project number: CN0005.
© WWF-Canon / Susan A. MAINKA

The black and white cat footed animal

What
The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) lives in a few mountain ranges in central and southern China, namely the Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces, in broadleaf and coniferous forests at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 ft (1500 to 3000m).

Why
Incredibly charismatic and photogenic, Giant Pandas are called "living fossils" because many species that existed alongside pandas in the past, such as stegodon (a big tusked elephant) and Chinese rhinos, are already extinct.

About
Even though it is classified as a carnivore, it feeds exclusively on bamboo and spends almost 14 hours a day eating just to get enough nutrients from  shoots.

And, as if you didn't know, the Giant Panda has been WWF’s symbol since it was formed in 1961.

Your chances of seeing one in the wild
There are supposedly some staff who have worked in panda reserves for years and never caught site of one. Yet they can be found and seen, especially near water sources very early in the morning.

The Giant panda is one of the rarest mammals remaining on this planet and is listed as 'endangered' in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Today about 1,600 pandas survive and are at great risk due to their low reproductive rate, any shortages (or die-back) of bamboo and the destruction of their habitat.
Mixed forest in the mist. Giant panda habitat. Qin Ling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China. / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
Giant panda habitat, Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China.
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther

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