The Giant Panda (Chinese: ??; pinyin: xióng mao), Ailuropoda melanoleuca ("black-and-white cat-foot"), is a mammal now usually classified in the bear family, Ursidae, that is native to central China. The Giant Panda lives in mountainous regions, like Sichuan and Tibet. Toward the latter half of the 20th century, the panda became somewhat of a national emblem for China, and is now used in Chinese gold coins. The Chinese name means "bear-cat," and can also be read in reverse to mean the same thing. Its Western epithet is named after the Red Panda. It used to be known as the Mottled Bear (Ailuropus melanoleucus).














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Despite being taxonomically a carnivore, their diet is overwhelmingly herbivorous. In fact, it lives almost entirely on bamboo. Technically, like many animals, they are omnivores, as pandas have been known to eat eggs, and they consume some insects along with their bamboo diet. These are necessary sources of protein. It is also distantly related to the Red Panda, but the shared name appears to derive from their common bamboo diet. Until its relation with the Red Panda was discovered in 1901, the Giant Panda was known as parti-coloured bear. For many decades the precise taxonomic classification of the panda was under debate as both Giant Pandas and Red Pandas share characteristics of both bears and raccoons. However, genetic testing has revealed that Giant Pandas are true bears and part of the Ursidae family. Its closest bear relative is the Spectacled Bear of South America. Disagreement remains about whether or not Red Pandas belong in Ursidae or the raccoon family, Procyonidae.

Above Images Come From The US Fish & Wildlife Service






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