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Chances are you aren't going to run into a Giant Panda on the Street!

Photo:  David Blank

Used by Permission:  Giant Pandas playing in grass

    Giant Pandas are only found in Southwestern China.  They used to roam over most of China, but now they are only found in six very small sections of forest in China, about 5,550 square miles worth.  The Giant Panda prefers forests that are abundant with bamboo.  They live in forests that are untouched by humans.  Much of the Giant Panda population decrease can be blamed on the fact that humans have mined, logged, and farmed in most of the Giant Pandas territories.  This is one of the reasons they are such a rare sight!

    Giant Pandas live near streams so they can obtain water, and they never den.  Bamboo gives little nutrition for the Pandas, so they eat and scavenge all year round.  Caves and trees give shelter for many Giant Pandas.  They raise young in caves to keep away from predators. 

    The Giant Pandas' ecological niche is very small.  They tend to keep them small to push out competition.  They also keep a small niche because Bamboo provides barely enough nutrition and energy for them to live off of.  Most Giant Pandas only move within a 3 mile radius.  The less they move, the more energy they store, therefore the nutrition of the Bamboo plant is enough for them.  They also conserve energy by eating and then resting.  Once they are done resting they can go search for food again. 

    Because the Giant Panda doesn't den during the winter, they can tolerate very cold temperatures in the winter and extremely humid air in the summer.  In the winter the temperature sometimes gets as low as -14 degrees Celsius!  They prefer living high up on mountains because its cool and damp.  They have been pushed up higher and higher lately because of their Bamboo forests being cut down by humans.  They tend to venture higher in the summer because they like the coolness, and lower in the winter because its already cold.

    Giant Pandas are very solitary animals.  They like to be alone.  Interactions with other Species  Most of their life they just wander alone for food, unless of course a female has a baby to take care of.  They don't interact with any animals unless they feel threatened.  Giant Pandas get the 'cute' and 'nice' reputation from being this way.  In reality they are very harmful if they feel threatened.  Most of the time though, they don't act aggressive towards their neighbors.  Giant Pandas don't act much with their neighbors and fellow forest animals.  They tend to keep to themselves and therefore maintain a good relationship.  Some common neighbors of Giant Pandas are Golden Monkeys, Deer, and their cousin the Red Panda.