The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally "black and white cat-foot"; Chinese: 大熊猫; pinyin: dà xióng māo, literally "big bear cat"), also known as panda bear or simply panda, is a bear native to south central China. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. The name "giant panda" is sometimes used to distinguish it from the unrelated red panda. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda's diet is over 99% bamboo.Giant pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.
The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu.As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.
The giant panda is a conservation reliant vulnerable species.A 2007 report shows 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas live in captivity outside China, living in 18 zoos in 13 different countries. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of giant pandas in the wild is on the rise.In March 2015, Mongabay stated the wild giant panda population increased by 268, or 16.8%, totaling to 1,864 individuals. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from "endangered" to "vulnerable" (it did not believe there was enough certainty yet to do so in 2008).
While the dragon has often served as China's national symbol, internationally the giant panda appears at least as commonly. As such, it is becoming widely used within China in international contexts, for example as one of the five Fuwa mascots of the Beijing Olympics.
The giant panda has luxuriant black-and-white fur. Adults measure around 1.2 to 1.9 m (4 to 6 ft) long, including a tail of about 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in), and 60 to 90 cm (2.0 to 3.0 ft) tall at the shoulder. Males can weigh up to 160 kg (350 lb). Females (generally 10–20% smaller than males) can weigh as little as 70 kg (150 lb), but can also weigh up to 125 kg (276 lb). Average adult weight is 100 to 115 kg (220 to 254 lb).
The giant panda has a body shape typical of bears. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, speculation suggests that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage in their shade-dappled snowy and rocky habitat.The giant panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. The panda's skull shape is typical of durophagous carnivorans. It has evolved from previous ancestors to exhibit larger molars with increased complexity and expanded temporal fossa. A 110.45 kg (243.5 lb) giant panda has a 3D canine teeth bite force of 2603.47 newtons and bite force quotient of 292. Another study had a 117.5 kg (259 lb) giant panda bite of 1298.9 newtons (BFQ 151.4) at canine teeth and 1815.9 newtons (BFQ 141.8) at carnassial teeth.
The giant panda's paw has a "thumb" and five fingers; the "thumb" – actually a modified sesamoid bone – helps it to hold bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould discusses this feature in his book of essays on evolution and biology, The Panda's Thumb.
The giant panda's tail, measuring 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in), is the second-longest in the bear family. (The longest belongs to the sloth bear.)
The giant panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. A female named Jia Jia was the oldest giant panda ever in captivity, born in 1978 and died at an age of 38 on October 16 2016.