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Pandas are highly specialized bears that have adapted well to a very specific diet and environment. Pandas are solitary creatures that do not hibernate in winter.
Centuries ago, pandas roamed southern and eastern China and fossil evidence shows their presence as far north as Beijing. But today, pandas are only found in about 29 isolated areas in the high mountains of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in western China.
The panda’s natural habitat is abundantly filled with bamboo, since 99 percent of a panda's diet consists of this woody plant. A panda will consume 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo a day.
Weather and Water
In this mountain habitat, 8500 to 11,000 feet above sea level, rain is abundant and the mountains are often covered in dense mist and heavy clouds.
The forests inhabited by pandas are thick with coniferous trees like pines and firs. Broad leafed trees also grow in these mountains.
The panda’s natural habitat has been diminishing as human development and the continuous cutting of bamboo forests have pushed pandas deeper into isolation. Further destruction of panda habitat is endangering the species.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chi King