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© Bernard DE WETTER / WWF
Life cycle
Pandas are mistakenly believed to be poor breeders due to the disappointing reproductive performance of captive animals.

But long-term studies have shown that wild panda populations can have reproductive rates comparable to some American black bear populations, which are thriving.

Breeding facts:

  • Giant pandas reach sexual maturity at 5.5 to 6.5 years.
  • A female can mate with several males, who compete over her.
  • A male will seek out different females who are on heat.
  • The mating season is in spring between March and May.
  • Males and females usually associate for no more than 2-4 days.
  • Gestation takes from 95-160 days.
  • Pandas normally give birth to single young
  • Twins seem to be born more frequently in captivity, when artificial insemination is used.
  • The reproductive rate is about 1 cub every 2 years.

Birth facts:

  • A newborn panda cub weighs just 90-130 g.
  • A cub is just 1/900th the size of its mother - one of the smallest newborn mammals relative to its mother's size.
  • Pandas are dependent on their mothers for the first few months of their lives and are fully weaned at 8 to 9 months.
  • Most pandas leave their mothers when she becomes pregnant again, usually at about 18 months.
  • A panda's average life span in the wild is 14-20 years.
  • But they can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Adult facts:

  • Giant pandas are generally solitary.
  • Each adult has a well-defined home range.
  • Although they are not territorial, females do not tolerate other females and sub-adults within the core areas of their range.
  • Encounters are rare outside the brief mating season, but pandas communicate with each other fairly often, mostly through vocalization and scent marking.
  • While roaming their territories, they mark their routes by spraying urine, clawing tree trunks, and rubbing against objects.
Giant panda mother with her 1 month old baby Wolong Nature Reserve, China

© Susan A. MAINKA / WWF

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© / Eric Baccega / WWF

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