Is the big panda a bear or a raccoon?
Giant panda, bamboo or Tibetan mountainbear - all these are names of the same little-studied and endangered beast. Thanks to its thick and fluffy white with black stripe coat, this kind is easily recognizable. Black "glasses" around the eyes, large ears of the same color, a funny good-natured face, the ability to sit flat, like a man, rocking a cub in the paws made the panda the favorite of children in all zoos. However, the range of its habitat is extremely narrow, and in the wild nature these animals lead such a secretive way of life that the scientists did not fully understand their habits to the end. So, until recently it was not even clear to which family the big pandas belong - to bears, raccoons or form an independent group.
Outwardly this funny animal is more likebear. The Chinese peasants were right when they called the bei-shuang beast (literally: the polar bear). However, researchers for a long time considered this creature an exorbitant size raccoon, because a large panda has common anatomical features with a small one, which is unconditionally considered as such. However, comparing all the signs and studying the panda genome, modern scientists still made a verdict: a bamboo bear - after all, a bear! At the beginning of the Miocene, that is, 18-25 million years ago, the branch of the large panda as a result of evolution separated from the main line of the bears. And the external similarity with the raccoon is explained not by a common origin, but by the preservation of certain characters under the same natural conditions.
Where is it and what does the panda eat? This rare animal lives only in the mountainous (1200-4000 m above sea level) forests of several provinces of China - Gansu, Tibet and Sichuan. Find the ancient remains of an animal in the mountains of Indochina and the islands of Kalimantan. This bear in the process of evolution almost completely switched to a vegetarian diet: 99% of panda-eaten food falls on bamboo shoots. According to the old bearish habit, she does not mind eating honey, fish, roots, and even does not disdain carrion.
But still all this is a big panda prefersbamboo. It is so firmly connected with the bamboo forests that it became her curse. The fact is that bamboo grows rapidly, grows into a grove, but then, 40-50 years later, it blooms and dies very quickly, and the next young growth appears only 3-4 years later. Previously, these animals simply moved to new territories, but now, when the forests are separated by fields, roads and settlements, they are doomed to starvation. After all, if such animals eat monotonous food, which is only assimilated by 17%, they must save energy. Panda prefers to lead a sedentary lifestyle, and those 14 hours, when she is awake, should always chew something.
The big panda is actually a small bear. Its growth is about a meter and 65 centimeters, weight - about 100 kilograms. Females are slightly smaller than males. The tail is larger than that of other bears - 12 cm. In the wild this rare species lives 14-20 years, and in zoos, with constant care and veterinary care - up to 26 years. Pandas make sounds that are unlike the predator's roar. To express friendship, they faintly bleat like lambs; with anger and grief the beast hums; animals squeal with pain, "champ" when they want to express a threat, and "tweet" during mating. The cubs whimper and whine.
A large panda breeds two cubs (less often oneor three). However, soon she chooses a bigger and healthier cub, and her outcast mother dies. To prevent the death of an already rare beast, scientists at zoos take one cub and then change it in a day. Thus, they manage to deceive the mother and grow two cubs at once. This beast is listed in the International Red Book, and in China it is declared the national treasure of the country. Now in nature live no more than one and a half thousand, a maximum of up to 1600 giant pandas. Another 140 live in zoos.