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The panda is not special just because it is one of the most well known and charismatic animals. It is also a very peculiar species, with many unique and very interesting characteristics. 

How many are left in the wild?


By 2004, there were estimated to be 1,600 pandas alive in the wild.
How does this compare to past figures? In the first ever mass survey that took place between 1974-1977, the researchers estimated that there were around 1,000 -1,100 giant pandas in the wild. In the 2nd ever survey, done between 1985-1988, again, around 1,000 animals were thought to exist.


Pandas eat almost nothing but bamboo shoots and leaves.Occasionally they eat other vegetation, fish, or small animals, but bamboo accounts for 99 percent of their diets. Pandas eat fast, they eat a lot, and they spend about 12 hours a day doing it.

The reason: They digest only about a fifth of what they eat. Overall, bamboo is not very nutritious. The shoots and leaves are the most valuable parts of the plants, so that's what a well-fed panda concentrates on eating. To stay healthy, they have to eat a lot—up to 15 percent of their body weight in 12 hours—so they eat fast.

Pandas' molars are very broad and flat. The shape of these teeth helps the animals crush the bamboo shoots, leaves, and stems they eat. To get the bamboo to their mouths, they hold the stems with their front paws, which have enlarged wrist bones that act as thumbs for gripping.

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How do you count pandas?

Knowing how many pandas exist in the wild is not an easy task. 

In fact, it requires a massive amount of effort and some not very pleasant activities... 

Teams of volunteers trek out into steep, mountainous areas and look for signs of the panda. The thing they keep an eye out for: dung! 

When they find it, they sift through the dung to pick out pieces of undigested bamboo.  

The way they identify individual pandas is from their bite marks on this undigested bamboo... which are all different (a bit like fingerprints).  

Remember that pandas are solitary and shy animals that usually roam remote and hard to reach areas in China's bamboo forests and mountains. Often, researchers have to walk for days and days, inspecting every meter of the forests for panda poop!

Each team of researchers is composed of about 40 people who are then divided into smaller sub-groups. A team can usually cover approximately 80 km2 each day. 

Why don't you have more recent panda population data?

Although the last full panda census was done in 2004, the giant panda's habitat is secure and even growing, with new reserves and "green corridors" being created. (Green corridors allow the pandas to move between each of the large reserves.)

All our studies indicate that the recovery of the species is steady, specially  thanks to the work of the Chinese government, local communities and WWF staff.


Ongoing threats to the panda's survival

Despite the conservation success in the panda's habitat in recent years problems still persist. 

The major factors contributing to habitat loss and fragmentation — the most pressing threats to the giant panda — are: 
  • conversion of forests to agricultural areas,
  • medicinal herb collection,
  • bamboo harvesting,
  • poaching, and
  • large-scale development activities such as road construction, hydropower development, and mining.

The illegal wildlife trade and the natural phenomenon of bamboo die-back are also threats.

Because of China's dense and growing human population, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1.2km wide — and panda habitat is continuing to disappear as settlers push higher up the mountain slopes.

There are many species of bamboo. Only a few of these grow at the high altitudes where pandas live today. A panda should have at least two bamboo species where it lives, or it will starve. Giant pandas used to be able to move quite easily from one mountaintop to another in search of food. Now the valleys are mostly inhabited by people.

Pandas are shy; they don't venture into areas where people live. This restricts pandas to very limited areas. As people continue to farm, log, and develop land higher and higher up the mountain slopes, the pandas' habitat continues to shrink.

Sometimes when all the bamboo in their area dies off naturally, pandas starve because they're unable to move to new areas where other bamboo species thrive.

Conservation organizations and Chinese government officials and scientists continue to work toward resolving the pandas' isolation problems. Maintaining bamboo corridors—strips of undisturbed land through which pandas can comfortably travel from mountain to mountain—are one of the many ideas that may help save the giant panda.

Text by Catherine D. Hughes

There are probably only about 1,000 giant pandas left in the wild. They are classified as an endangered species.

In addition to 1,000 giant pandas in the wild, there about 127 in captivity. Giant pandas live in zoos in China, the United States, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and North Korea.

Giant pandas may live to be up to 30 years old in captivity.

After the age of six, female giant pandas begin to have cubs.

Female pandas give birth to one or two cubs every two years. A cub nurses for about four months and then begins to nibble on bamboo. By the age of six months, it no longer nurses.

Giant pandas may live to be up to 30 years old in captivity.

After the age of six, female giant pandas begin to have cubs.

Female pandas give birth to one or two cubs every two years. A cub nurses for about four months and then begins to nibble on bamboo. By the age of six months, it no longer nurses.

Giant pandas are generally solitary. Males and females come together briefly to mate.

Young pandas stay with their mothers for up to 18 months.

Giant pandas weigh between 165 and 300 pounds (75 and 136 kilograms).
Giant pandas used to range throughout southern and eastern China, Myanmar, and north Vietnam. Now they are found only in a small part of China.

Habitat loss caused by logging is the largest threat to giant pandas today.


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People and pandas - often conflicting needs

A long history

People have shared the environment with the panda for centuries and have relied on the area's natural resources for their livelihood. As the population has grown, many human activities have become unsustainable and significantly eroded the panda's habitat.
Millions of people live in and around the panda's habitat, many of them in the cities of Xi'an and Chengdu. As economic activity increases, more people will continue to move to the area adding more pressure to an already overburdened ecosystem.
Economic development
When logging in the panda's habitat was banned in 1998, new threats emerged, such as: 
  • Mining,
  • hydropower development and
  • irresponsible tourism have increased
These activities, along with farming and road construction, have replaced commercial logging to remedy the revenue loss from the ban and became the major threats to forests and wildlife in the area.

Halting the decline of the panda

The conservation solutions to save the species are working - and, after years of decline, panda numbers are thought to be increasing.
WWF has been working closely with the Chinese government in theQinling and Minshan Mountains, key landscapes for the panda, and the projects implemented in these areas to save the panda are working. 

Panda success!
  • Panda habitat is increasing with the development of new reserves and green corridors.
  • Some threats to panda survival such as poaching and illegal logging have been significantly reduced.
  • Community development projects to help people sustainably coexist with pandas have been very positive.

There is hope...
The work of the Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provincial governments to ensure the survival of the giant panda gives rise to hope that the panda will not be lost and will continue to exist in the wild for generations to come.

...but there is still work to do
The IUCN’s Red List classifies the panda as endangered, as its numbers remain low, despite the recent increase, and threats to its survival remain.

Problems persist, such as the loss and fragmentation of panda habitat and competing needs of pandas and local people, but there are solutions.


The Chinese name for panda is daxiongmao, which means "large bear-cat."

Newborn pandas weigh only 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 113 grams)—1/900th of what their mother weighs.

Giant pandas are found in the wild only in mountainous bamboo forests of southwestern China.

The scientific name for the giant panda is Ailuropoda melanoleuca.

Copy from Kids National Geographic

What you can do:

Help us continue this success story

Encouraged by the recent survey numbers and the increasing numbers of reserves and community development initiatives, WWF is confident, that with your help, we can ensure a future for pandas in the wild.
Here are a few ways that you can help us save the panda: 


Your donation will have a positive effect for pandas, their environment and the local people.  

When you donate to WWF, you will be donating to conservation projects on the ground in China for the pandas. Your donation will help towards things such as:
  • Nature reserve protection, to ensure that the reserve borders are patrolled and no illegal hunting or logging takes place in the reserve.
  • Community development such as buying wood saving stoves for local people to limit the impact that wood-fuel harvesting is having on the forests.
  • Research and monitoring work, such as infrared cameras that are set up to record the movements of pandas in the Minshan and Qinling Mountains.

Donate now >>http://wwf.panda.org/how_you_can_help/support_wwf/donate/

OR link to the WWF: http://wwf.panda.org/

Travel smart

Panda tourism is on the rise. The Chinese government and WWF are now working on ways to reduce the impact of tourism on panda habitats. 

There is a greater focus on eco-tourism. For more information on the best way to limit your impact, read our travel smart tips.

Other ways you can help

Help spread the word about WWF and post or email this page to your friends, coworkers, family and community.

Do you have your own website or blog? Why not support WWF and link to thier website?





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How to draw a Cartoon Panda Step 7

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