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Giant pandas are one of the rarest animals on Earth. With a species range once extending thousands of kilometers, today they are confined to a few pockets of bamboo forest.
 
Our video, part of Nat Geo WILD’s “Destination Wild” series, complements our map of the giant panda’s current and historic ranges, and an outline of the categories and criteria of endangered species.
 
Use these resources to help answer questions in the Questions tab. Then, read some Fast Facts about these “shy, elusive, and gentle” creatures.
  1. According to the video, pandas once roamed “from Beijing to the Himalayas.” What modern-day nations did this species range include? (Hint: Take a quick look at the giant panda layers on our MapMaker Interactive.)

    • Answer

      The panda species range once included China, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam. Today, their range only extends to pockets of bamboo forests in western China.

  2. About 1,850 giant pandas are alive in the wild, and about 300 live in captivity. Based on our “Endangered Species: Categories and Criteria” outline, this places giant pandas in what category of endangered species: vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, or extinct in the wild?

    • Answer

      Giant pandas are a true “vulnerable species.” This means they are less threatened than an "endangered species” species, but more threatened than a “near-threatened” species.

  3. China is taking a two-pronged approach to panda conservation. What are the two strategies Chinese conservationists are using to protect the giant panda?

    • Answer

      Chinese conservationists are working to increase the number of pandas in captivity and release more pandas into the wild.

Pandas are a species of bear. They are most closely related to the spectacled bear of South America.

Pandas do not live in dens or other permanent homes. They sleep and raise their cubs under trees, stumps, or cliffs.

Unlike many bears, pandas do not hibernate. During the cold season, they simply migrate to warmer territory.

Pandas are omnivores. Besides bamboo, they will eat grasses, fish, eggs, and grubs (worms and insects). In captivity, pandas will also eat honey, fruit, and specially made “panda chow.”

Bamboo leaves and shoots (new growths) make up 99% of a panda’s diet.
bamboo
Noun

type of huge, woody grass.

captivity
Noun

confinement or imprisonment.

complement
Verb

to complete or make a positive addition to.

confine
Verb

to limit or enclose.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

criteria
Plural Noun

set of standards or rules.

den
Noun

protected shelter of a wild animal.

elusive
Adjective

difficult to capture.

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

extend
Verb

to enlarge or continue.

forest
Noun

ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

hibernate
Verb

to reduce activity almost to sleeping in order to conserve food and energy, usually in winter.

migrate
Verb

to move from one place or activity to another.

Noun

organism that eats a variety of organisms, including plants, animals, and fungi.

rare
Adjective

unusual or uncommon.

shoot
Noun

newly sprouted plant or plant growth.

Noun

native, geographic area in which an organism can be found. Range also refers to the geographic distribution of a particular species.

territory
Noun

land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

vulnerable species
Noun

level of conservation between "near threatened" and "endangered." Vulnerable is the lowest of the "threatened" categories.