Our final stop in our notebooking safari across Asia is one final animal in China. If you’re new to the notebooking safari, visit our first stop here.
Our final animal on the safari is one I know you will recognize right away. It is an endangered animal but has become a symbol of China itself. Are you ready to take a trip to the mountains to see if we can spot a giant panda?
China is the only country in the world where giant pandas still live in the wild. There is a bamboo forest in Shanxi where I think we’ll spot one. Let’s go there, and I’ll tell you more about the pandas on the way.
The giant panda can eat different plants, fruits, and berries, but its favorite food is bamboo. It can spend more than twelve hours a day eating up to 30-40 pounds (13.6-18.1 kg) of it! But there is a problem with bamboo—it’s not very nutritious. Pandas don’t get many vitamins and minerals from it. That’s why they have to eat so much of it!
Bamboo grows fast (sometimes even one foot (30.5 cm) per day), but there is another problem. Bamboo can live a long time—even one hundred years or more—but unlike many plants, it only produces seeds once. So instead of an apple tree that will bloom many times and produce many apple seeds, bamboo will only create seeds once in its entire life. If the giant pandas run out of bamboo to eat, they will starve.
Look—do you see the forest up ahead? I know it looks like a bunch of trees from this distance, but when we get closer you’ll see it is an entire forest of bamboo.
OK, now that we’re here, let’s see if we can spot a giant panda. They rely on their sense of smell, so we’ll have to be careful what direction we approach from.
There—do you see it? It’s munching on a long stalk of bamboo. Its wide, flat back teeth are perfect for grinding the woody stems. Do you see the way it’s holding the stalk? The panda has paws like other bears but it also has a specially-shaped wrist bone that acts almost like a thumb. That allows it to hold things in ways other bears can’t.
You can see pictures of giant panda bears here.
Using the information on this page, answer the following questions:
True or False:
- Pandas in the wild love to visit with people.
- A panda is an herbivore.
- The panda is an endangered animal.
Research challenge: Do giant pandas hibernate?
For a free downloadable copy of the entire Asian animals notebooking safari series (31 units total) plus a notebooking page for each one, sign up below.