The Giant Panda is a small black and white bear. Most of its stomach and head are white with a black saddle across its back, black limbs and black ears. It can weigh up to 275 pounds. It lives in six small areas in inland China. Its habitat is a cold, damp, coniferous forest with a bamboo understory between an elevation of 4,000 to 11,000 feet. The Panda bear eats over 15 different types of bamboo but they have been known to eat other plants, fish, eggs, and insects for their protein. Because of their bad digestion system Pandas must eat for twelve to sixteen hours a day, they can devour twenty-two to forty pounds a day. The Giant Panda is very close to extinction.
Only 600-1000 live in the wild and that number is growing less because of China's growing population and poachers who sell Panda skins.
However, about 110 panda's live in captivity around the world.
The Chinese government recently approved a 10 year plan to improve existing reserves, build new reserves and create habitat passageways between reserves. This program was developed by World Wildlife Fund and the Ministry of Forestry and is estimated to cost $50 - $100 million. The money to carry out this conservation program is not yet available, but AZA hopes to support in fund-raising for execution of this project. The Panda is on its way to recovery and hopefully it can return to its former glory.