The giant panda of China.

Essay by Harv182High School, 10th gradeA-, July 2003

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~The Giant Panda~

One of the world's rarest animals is the Giant Panda. Situated in China, the Panda was once found over a much wider area of the country. The Panda was thought to be a member of the Raccoon family. However, Scientists have started believing, that the Giant Panda is, in fact, a bear. The Panda is native to china and has been in existence for the past two million years and is sometimes called 'The Living Fossil'.

The giant panda has a white, chubby body with black legs and a broad band of black across the shoulders. It has a large, round head; small, black ears; and a white face with black patches around each eye. This panda grows to between about 1 and 1.5 metres long and has a short tail. Adults weigh up to 160 kilograms. The female gives birth once a year to one or two cubs.

Panda cubs are extremely tiny, weighing only about 140 grams at birth.

Both giant pandas and red pandas can grasp objects between their fingers and a so-called "extra thumb." This thumb, which is a bone covered by a fleshy pad, grows from the wrist of each forepaw. Pandas use their true thumbs in the same way as their fingers. The "extra thumb" of the red panda is not so fully developed as that of the giant panda.

A giant panda eats chiefly bamboo shoots, though it also eats some other plants and occasionally feeds on fish and small rodents. Two species of bamboo make up most of the animal's diet. About every 100 years, all the plants of these two species produce seeds and then die. This event occurred most recently in the late 1970's. It takes several years for the seeds to grow into plants...