China National Animal

About China National Animal

The Giant Panda is regarded as the symbol of China. It is also the Chinese national animal. The giant panda is universally loved, but this peaceful, bamboo-eating member of the bear family faces many threats. Its population is small and isolated as its traditional forest habitat in southwest China's mountainous areas becomes fragmented. The government has set up more than 30 reserves, but habitat destruction and poaching continues to pose a threat to pandas living outside them. With rapid economic development, it is more important than ever to ensure the giant panda's survival.

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally meaning "cat-foot black-and-white") is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is 99% bamboo. Other parts of its diet include honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, and bananas when available.

The Giant Panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Due to farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center is a good place to see the Giant Panda in China.

The Giant Panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. A 2007 report shows 239 Giant Pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. 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.

However, the IUCN does not believe there is enough certainty yet to reclassify the species from Endangered to Vulnerable. While the dragon has historically served as China's national emblem, in recent decades the Giant Panda has also served as an emblem for the country. Its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative silver, gold, and platinum coins. Though the Giant Panda is often assumed to be docile, it has been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation rather than predatory behavior