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What do pandas eat? And other giant panda facts

panda cub peeking out
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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 mother and 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.

Panda with bark

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 cub climbing 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 one of the rarest and most endangered bears in the world. A 2014 survey counted 1,864 pandas in the wild. While still low, that is a 17% population increase in one decade.

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

The photos above are from Disneynature's upcoming film Born in China, in theaters April 21. A portion of opening-week ticket sales in the US and China will benefit WWF's panda conservation effortsLearn more about WWF's work with Disneynature.