The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a black and white bear native to central- and south-western China.
It has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders. The rest of the animal’s coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage into their shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings.
The panda’s thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo.
Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in the Chinese provinces Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu.
The french missionary Armand David introduced “the black and white bear from China” to the west in 1869.
The giant panda is listed as vulnerable in the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals.
There are about 1864 giant pandas left in the wild.
The global captive population of giant pandas has reached 728 individuals in January 2024.