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What Do Pandas Eat? And Other Giant Panda Facts

The charismatic giant panda is a notable symbol of conservation—and a valuable success story. Reserves in China established to protect the species have grown from eight to more than 60 over the past 30 years. WWF was the first international conservation organization invited into China to help with panda conservation.

Explore some basic facts about giant pandas.

Giant panda cub

Newborn pandas are about 1/900th of the size of their mothers—about the size of a stick of butter. But they grow large, reaching up to 330 pounds as adults.

Pandas average a lifespan of 14-20 years Most pandas leave their mothers when the mothers conceive again, which is usually after 18 months.

Bamboo seedlings

Pandas play an essential role in the bamboo forests of the Yangtze Basin by spreading seeds as they roam, increasing vegetation. WWF works to make this area more sustainable to protect pandas and other endangered species, such as the golden monkey and takin.

Pandas subsist almost entirely on bamboo, eating from 26 to 84 pounds per day.

Panda at tree

Though solitary animals, pandas still communicate with one another through vocalization and scent marking. They spray urine, claw tree trunks and rub against objects to mark their paths.


Forest destruction reduces pandas' access to bamboo and prevents mating, and only about 61% of China's panda population is protected by reserves. WWF works with the Chinese government's National Conservation Program to protect the species' habitat.

Pandas are the rarest member of the bear family. A 2004 survey showed that fewer than 1,600 live in the wild. But that's 40% more than were thought to exist in the 1980s.

The giant panda is the inspiration for the WWF logo. Chi-Chi, a giant panda, was living at the London Zoo in 1961, the same year WWF was created. The species became a recognized symbol that overcomes language barriers and symbolizes conservation.

WWF logo through the years