Panda facts: All you ever wanted to know about Edinburgh’s newest residents
With Tian Tian and Yang Guang now settling in at Edinburgh Zoo, here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about one of the rarest creatures on Earth. By Jane Bradley and Stefani Millar
1 The giant panda’s official name – the Ailuropoda melanoleuca – literally means “black and white cat-foot”.
2 The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
3 Its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative silver, gold and platinum coins.
4 Loans of giant pandas to American and Japanese zoos formed an important part of the diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s, as it marked some of the first cultural exchanges between the People’s Republic and the west. This practice has been termed “panda diplomacy”.
5 Figures from 2004 showed that the number of pandas living in the wild may have been underestimated at about 1,600.
6 The notoriously poor breeding of giant pandas, both in the wild and in captivity, has proved difficult for keepers, who have resorted to extreme measures to tempt them to procreate.
7 Panda porn – showing them videos of other pandas mating – was attempted in zoos in Thailand and China, to limited success.
8 Other methods to tempt the panda to reproduce, such as giving the males the drug Viagra, to stimulate the pandas’ sex life, have been inconclusive.
9 The panda is the emblem of wildlife charity WWF Scotland. The logo was inspired by Chi-Chi, a giant panda brought to London Zoo in 1961, when WWF was being created.
10 Last week, France agreed a deal with China to take on a pair of pandas – the first sent to France since the death of Yen Yen in 2000, who was given in the 1970s to Georges Pompidou, the country’s former president.
11 Pandas are about the same size as an American black bear.
12 Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds in the wild. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.
13 The giant panda is listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘red list’ of threatened species.
14 The panda’s paw has six digits – the sixth is actually an enlarged wrist bone that functions as an opposable thumb.
15 Adult giant pandas are generally solitary, but they do communicate periodically through scent marks, calls, and occasional meetings.
16 Offspring stay with their mothers from one and a half to three years.
17 Pandas spend up to 16 hours eating every day.
18 A newborn panda cub is 900 times smaller than its mother and would fit in the palm of your hand.
19 Pandas are pink, hairless and blind when they are born.
20 Giant panda cubs are often born as twins but in the wild often only one will survive.
21 Edinburgh Zoo has commissioned a special tartan for Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s arrival. The tartan’s main colours are black and white, but also include green for bamboo and red to symbolise China, good luck and birth.
22 The giant panda has lived in bamboo forests for several million years.
23 Pandas are good tree climbers.
24 Giant pandas reach breeding maturity between four and eight years of age.
25 Female pandas ovulate only once a year, in the spring, and can only get pregnant within a period of two to three days.
26 Female giant pandas give birth between 95 and 160 days after mating.
27 Except for a marsupial – such as the kangaroo – a giant panda baby is the smallest mammal newborn relative to its mother’s size.
28 Maturity is reached between the ages of 4-5 years for females and 6-7 years for males.
29 A panda needs to have at least two bamboo species where it lives, or it will starve.
30 There are about 130 giant pandas in captivity.
31 A 1989 Kit Kat featuring two men in panda suits was voted one of the top 100 ads of all time.
32 The panda’s closest relative is the spectacled bear of South America.
33 Pandas are most active at twilight and night.
34 Like humans, pandas walk with both their heel and toes making contact with the ground.
35 Hairs on the soles of their feet give them traction and reduces heat loss on ice and snow.
36 Pandas are classed as carnivores, but with a lack of food in their habitat they started to eat bamboo. The panda’s digestive system is partially adapted for processing bamboo: they have a tough throat and oesophaegal lining, thick stomach lining, and enlarged colon surface. However, their short intestines are unable to digest cellulose and, therefore, do not remove all of the nutrients from the bamboo.
37 The cost of seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo is £15.50, which includes a voluntary £1.55 panda supplement.
38 The pandas’ diet can also include flowers, vines, mushroom grass, fish and small rodents.
39 Pandas consume 20 to 40lb of bamboo per day.
40 Pandas communicate vocally. They have up to 11 distinct calls.
41 Pandas are the second most-threatened species in the world behind the tiger.
42 They once lived in lowland areas but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.
43 In zoos, as well as bamboo, giant pandas eat sugar cane, rice gruel, special high-fibre biscuits, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.
44 Giant pandas have large molars and strong jaw muscles to crush tough bamboo.
45 Giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long.
46 A panda usually eats while sitting upright, in a pose that resembles how humans sit on the floor.
47 Cubs do not open their eyes until they are six to eight weeks old and are not mobile until three months.
48 Unlike other bears from temperate climates, giant pandas do not hibernate.
49 They are efficient swimmers.
50 Pandas in the wild live for about 14 to 20 years, and up to 30 in captivity.
51 The average panda pregnancy is about 135 days.
52 Giant pandas can bleat, roar and growl.
53 Giant pandas have unusually thick and heavy bones for their size, but they are also very flexible and can do somersaults.
54 Anyone caught poaching pandas can be imprisoned for up to 20 years.
55 Pandas are one of the few animals whose parts have not been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
56 The panda prefers a cool, damp, isolated habitat and may climb to altitudes of 11,000 feet to find it.
57 Pandas possess a double coat. The top layer of fur is coarse, the under layer dense and woolly. The fur has an oily feel and deflects water, protecting the panda in its cold, misty environment.
58 Pandas digest only 20 per cent of what they eat. The other 80 per cent is excreted. This means pandas poop more than 12 times a day.
59 Pandas have been on earth for about three million years and are considered “living fossils” because many of the species they co-existed with are now extinct.
60 Panda lovers can watch the creatures live on “panda cams” at San Diego and Adelaide zoos.
61 Visitor numbers rose more than 75 per cent after Adelaide Zoo welcomed a pair of giant pandas in 2009.
62 Edinburgh’s pandas will be the first pandas to live in the UK for 17 years, since Britain’s last giant panda, Ming-Ming, was sent back to China in 1994 after a failed breeding experiment with her prospective mate, Bao Bao.
63 A panda was the star of a hit 2008 animation, Kung Fu Panda, about a bumbling humanoid panda named Po, voiced by Jack Black, who aspires to be a kung fu master.
64 Panda is a Mexican alternative rock band formed in Monterrey, Nuevo León, in 1996.
65 US singer Noah Benjamin Lennox, a founding member of the Animal Collective, an experimental psychedelic band, is also known as Panda Bear.
66 During the Xizhou Dynasty, people in Pingwu had a special name for the panda: “Zouya”.
67 During the Ming Dynasty, the panda’s pelt was believed to have a magical influence that could repel plague and prevent tumours.
68 The giant panda is thought to be a physical manifestation of the yin and the yang, as its body is both black and white.
69 The giant panda has poor eyesight due to living in the dense forests of China.
70 The first westerner to see a panda was a French missionary, PA David, in Baoxing, in 1850.
71 The mother of Emperor Wen of Han was said to be buried with a panda skull in her vault.
72 There are two types of pandas. The black- and-white variant is called the giant panda while the black-and-red-coated variety, which is much smaller, is the red panda.
73 There are more than 50 panda reserves in China, protecting 45 per cent of the remaining giant panda habitat.
74 Tibetan folklore says the panda got its distinctive black markings after holding a funeral for a group of four shepherdesses who died trying to rescue a panda from a leopard. The pandas wore black armbands and, as they cried, the colour from the armbands ran on to their white fur. They vowed never to wipe off the black dye in memory of the girls who died.
75 Jackals, leopards and the yellow-throated marten are all threats to the panda in the wild.
76 Pandas first became popular in the west when, in 1936, American fashion designer Ruth Harkness captured baby panda Su-Lin in China and took her to the United States.
77 Giant pandas are about 150cm long from nose to rump, with a 10-15cm tail.
78 The film Pacifier saw Vin Diesel performing the Peter Panda dance to get Baby Tyler to sleep.
79 Panda Cola was a popular drink in the 1980s, but was discontinued in the late 2000.
80 Over the past couple of years, woolly hats which tie under the chin with a knitted panda’s face have become popular among teenagers.
81 The Fiat Panda is one of the most popular of Fiat’s cars, having sold more than 6.5 million globally since the car’s launch 31 years ago.
82 Panda Express is the largest chain of Chinese restaurants in America.
83 Scientists can identify individual pandas from their bite marks on undigested bamboo found in panda poo – the marks are very individual, almost like fingerprints.
84 Earlier this year, a scientist from China discovered from examining panda excrement that male pandas have dramatic spikes in sex hormone testosterone, but usually conserve it until they have found a female mate.
85 Bamboo is so nutritionally poor that it is thought that is why the pandas have to consume such huge quantities to survive.
86 Pandas cannot store fat, making it difficult for females to produce enough milk for their young.
87 Famous people who have been photographed with pandas include Steven Seagal, Ben Stiller, Jackie Chan, and Jack Black.
88 The narrator of the film Fight Club said: “I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species.”
89 A parody book, 100 Facts About Pandas, was published in 2009 by Square Peg and includes ‘facts’ such as panda fur, when woven into a fabric, is bulletproof, and that panda cubs or ‘cubinetts’ as they are called, are born female and will only turn male if given a fright in their first 48 hours. Scotsman research has found these to be false.
90 Edinburgh Zoo’s panda enclosure is available for weddings at a cost of £6,00 an hour.
91 Their pupils have vertical slits, like many nocturnal animals, which allow them to see better at night.
92 Some scientists believe their coloration provides camouflage during the winter. Other scientists feel that their conspicuous coat enables the solitary pandas to spot one another.
93 Some scientists think that the pandas’ black eyes and ears make them more intimidating. Large black eyes are threatening to many species.
94 When interacting with other pandas, an aggressive panda will bob its head and display its eyes and ears, while a submissive panda will turn its head to the side or cover its eyes with its paws.
95 Often, mother pandas will look after one cub and ignore the other, leaving it to die.
96 After mating, the male leaves the female alone to raise the cub and has no part in its upbringing.
97 It is rare for pandas to be vicious towards humans. However, pandas can attack to defend themselves or their young.
98 A video of a baby panda sneezing in a zoo has received more than 124,578,000 views on YouTube.
99 It costs five times more to keep a panda in a zoo than that of the next most expensive animal, an elephant, which costs around £37,000 a year.
100 Panda cars were small or medium-sized police cars used for patrol work from 1965. They were named for their black (sometimes blue) and white panels. In the 1980s, they began to be phased out but police cars are often still referred to as panda cars.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west