What's black and white and almost extinct all over? If you guessed the Giant Panda, then you are right! The giant panda is China's symbol of peace.
When you look at the giant panda, you think you see a black bear with white fur, but they are just the opposite. Their bodies are white, but their ears, eyes, shoulders, and legs are black.
There is an ancient legend that says the panda was once all white like the polar bear. In the legend, a leopard was going to pounce on a panda cub. A little girl ran to help. The panda cub was saved, but the leopard got the girl. At the little girl's funeral, all the white pandas came. They smeared black ash on their arms like arm bands to show their love for the little girl. The sadness made them cry, and when they hugged and wiped the tears out of their eyes, the ashes ashes covered their eyes, ears, shoulders, and legs turning them black.
At one time thousands of pandas roamed through China's forests. Now there are less than 2,300. These giant bears are losing their habitat and are being hunted for their fur like so many other endangered animals.
While it is true that pandas will sometimes eat eggs, fish, and even small rodents, most of a giant panda's day is spent eating bamboo. They have strong teeth that lets them munch the woody stalks, and a wrist bone that sticks out like a thumb to hold the branches while they eat.
Speaking of eating, did you know that a giant panda can eat 25-100 pounds of bamboo in a day? That's a lot of bamboo! It's easy to see how they can strip a bamboo forest, and it takes up to 15 years for all of that bamboo to grow back. In ancient times, the giant panda would just slowly move to another part of the forest. Now they cannot do that. There aren't miles and miles of bamboo forests any more.
If you want to learn more about one of my favorite bears, check out one of the links below.