Giant pandas are popular animals that most people have only ever seen on television and in pictures. According to the World Wildlife Federation, about 1,600 mature giant pandas live in the wild, and they all live in in China. Several zoos around the world have pandas as well.
Habitat for pandas is declining, which is the primary reason they are considered endangered animals. Pandas mainly eat bamboo, which grows in the shade of large fir trees in the mountains. Industrialization and population growth has decreased bamboo forests and made it difficult for pandas to travel to find new supplies of bamboo.
Pandas are selective about mates, and the females are only fertile in the spring, and only for a few days. Combined with the small number of pandas, these factors make successful mating difficult.
Female pandas usually give birth to one or two cubs at a time, and often only one survives in the wild. The cubs weigh from 4 to 8 ounces at birth, which can make their survival difficult.
Although the Chinese government mandates prison time for anyone caught killing a panda, poaching still occurs. Additionally, pandas are sometimes killed by traps intended for other animals.
About 60 percent of wild pandas live on reserves that have 2.5 million acres of protected habitat. However, these reserves are fragmented, with villages, roads and railroads keeping the panda populations separated.