The giant panda or the Ailuropoda melanoleuca as it’s known scientifically is a species of bear that originated from China. Known in the Chinese as the ???; which translate to “black and white cat-foot”, the panda has many distinctive features such as majestic black and white fur, fat and furry round bodies and black patches around parts of its body. The pandas have been become a common national symbol for China internationally alongside the dragon due to their inherent cuteness factor and popularity with people. However, the panda is one that is considered endangered due to their biology and behavior. As a result of this, conservationists and animal activists have risen up in support of this cuddly animal by raising money in order to save them.Oddly enough, despite having the digestive system of a carnivore and even being scientifically classified as one, The giant panda instead has the diet along the lines of a herbivore as it consists of about ninety-nine percent bamboo alongside some flowers and other plants they might find in the wild. They may very rarely eat a egg or some small animal. Pandas also have an especially large appetite, they eat for half the day of heavy bamboo diet. Despite all this though, having some a vegetation-based diet is very detrimental to pandas because they still have a carnivore digestive system and as a result of this, pandas gains very little energy and protein from eating bamboo. Due to this factor, the average giant panda eats as much as twenty to thirty pounds of bamboo shoots a day in order to make up for the lack of benefits that the food source can give them. Eating bamboo, however, is the primary reason for some of the two of the panda’s most distinctive features, their large bodies, and their round faces. They have large bodies due to their need for a lower metabolism as a result of their diet and they have round due to their need for large, powerful jaws which is necessary for the fibrous plant material that they consume. Bamboo consumption is also the reason that the panda population has been in trouble before, Bamboo plants are ones that flower and then die. In a year, the plants will regenerate but it may take a long time before the bamboo could support the panda populations diet. In the past, China has to help with this problem by bringing the bamboo straight to the panda’s reserves, but bamboo is very expensive due to the low demand of them before the panda dilemma. In China, the bear, in general, is highly honored in Chinese culture, but the panda is especially loved and respected by the Chinese people due to it having many characteristics and qualities that are appreciated by the Chinese society as a whole. Pandas are seen as strong, being described as strong and fierce as a tiger. They are warriors that look for their own food, climb trees easily despite their size and can survive freezing temperatures with their luxurious coats. The pandas have intelligence, grit and resistance which makes it clear why the Chinese see them as worthy animals. However, symbolically the giant panda is generally associated with friendship and peace, but the giant panda has had many different meanings and symbolism throughout the ages with it being closely linked with Chinese history and culture. In the past, pandas were thought to be rare and noble creatures – the Empress Dowager Bo was buried with a panda skull in her vault. The grandson of Emperor Taizong of Tang is said to have given Japan two pandas and a sheet of panda skin as a sign of goodwill. As a tribute to kings and emperors, a panda’s pelt was often given during that time. During the Ming dynasty, the panda was often thought to have medical powers. The pelt supposedly could repel plague and prevent tumors. Pandas are also seen as the physical form of yin and yang due to their black and white pelt. Their calm and carefree behavior also contribute to this idea due to the concept of having a balance(in the panda’s case, black and white), brings the yin-yang harmony and peace. Nowadays, pandas are given to as diplomatic gifts from China to other countries. The panda’s Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing were given to the US president at the time, Richard Nixon in 1950s.The giant panda is among the world’s most adored and protected rare animals and as a result of this conservation for these animals is a top priority for many conservationists. This conservation effort has been a near half -century-long battle. The panda has always been a vulnerable species due to their inherent nature and biology. Despite its status as a symbol of peace throughout Chinese culture. The giant panda has been victims of poaching by natives in ancient times and by foreigners once they were introduced to the West. The population boom in China after 1949 also was a source of disparity as the increased population caused the panda’s habitat to suffer immensely. The population boom also caused widespread famine throughout the country which led to increased hunting of wildlife, including pandas. One of the first organizations to preserve the pandas was the Wolong National Nature Reserve. It was set up by the Chinese government in 1958 to save the declining panda population. However, due to the lack of knowledge about pandas and their ecology and biology, this was not a good thing for pandas ultimately as they were caged most of the time instead of given proper habitats. Efforts that renewed in the 1990s eventually breathed new life into panda conservation, organizations such as the WWF(World Wide Fund for Nature) have allowed pandas to continue their existence into the twenty-first century. As of late 2016, the giant panda is no longer considered an endangered species with over 1,864 pandas in the Chinese wilderness compared to around 1,000 in the 1970s.However, some conservationists say that the efforts to the save the pandas aren’t worth the time, money and resources. Giant pandas require a lot of help in order to sustain and people might argue that the money is better spent on more useful animals or preserving rainforests. The popularity of giant pandas allows for attention to be drawn to other conservation efforts but at the same time, it also draws attention away from lesser known, even more, endangered species. Their utility as a creature is also mediocre at best as they don’t really offer anything other than being cute and cuddly. Despite this, pandas are still worth saving. As discussed above, pandas are cute, as a result, they gain a lot of funding and effort to save them. It’s the same phenomenon as the Save the Lion and the Save the Whale effort. People like helping cute creatures. This increased focus on the conservation of giant panda’s habitat allows them to act as a sort of “umbrella species” for other animals in their habitat, allowing them to reap the benefits of the better habitats. To conclude, giant pandas are fascinating creatures. They are very cute and cuddly with a very strange diet that is very detrimental to their survival. On top of that, they have very low birth rates and habitats with their food in there that get destroyed very frequently. It’s like natural selection just wanted these bears off the Earth since the beginning. Despite this, the panda is an important symbol in Chinese culture and society. Not only that, they are symbols internationally as conservation and as a comfort to people in the world. They represent the idea that groups of people can come together and cooperate to save a creature on the brink of extinction.
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