The Giant Panda is perhaps the most widely recognized endangered species, having been the World Wildlife Fund's symbol since 1961.
The giant panda is indigenous to mountainous forests of southwest China. Its threats include habitat destruction and poaching. Pandas live at the top of the Yangtze Basin, home to millions of people as well as other rare, endemic, and endangered animal and plant species. Development and industry in the area includes tourism, fisheries and agriculture, transportation, hydropower, and water resources.
Giant pandas are peaceful and largely solitary animals, with a herbivorous diet consisting almost entirely of bamboo.
There are approximately 1,600 pandas living in the wild in the world. Of these, around 980 live in panda reserves established by the Chinese government. The most well known reserve is the Wolong Nature Reserve, which the WWF has supported since 1980.
How you can help pandas[edit | edit source]
In mid-May of 2008, a devastating earthquake struck China, damaging the Wolong facility. Several workers are thought to have died, and two pandas escaped. Of the 35 enclosures at the reserve’s breeding center, 14 were destroyed and 18 were severely damaged. The National Zoo and the Giant Panda Conservation Fund are helping to rebuild at Wolong. To donate, visit the National Zoo's website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/giantpandas/.
The World Wildlife Fund lists several other ways you can help and support pandas: http://www.panda.org/how_you_can_help/index.cfm.