You want to know how giant pandas grow up, and what are their characteristics at different stages of their life? Read on to learn more about the life cycle of the giant panda.
THE DIFFERENT LIFE STAGES OF THE GIANT PANDA
Giant pandas are born very small (about 100 g), they are blind, white and defenseless.
The mother cradles her young in one paw and does not leave the den for several days after childbirth, even to drink.
The little ones start to feed on bamboo around six months and are completely weaned at nine months.
Cubs die easily in the wild because they are so small and helpless. The mother must leave them alone in the den so they can eat for four hours a day.
3) AUTONOMY AT 2 YEARS
Pandas grow very fast. They stay with their mother for between a year and a half and two years. When the young leave their mother depends on her ability to conceive. They reach their adult size in four years (up to 150 kg).
4) MATURITY AT 4-6 YEARS
Giant pandas reach full maturity and may to reproduce between four and six years old (females at four years old, males at six years old), while thecaptive giant pandas mature two or three years earlier.
Young male pandas are lower priority in the wild, and have virtually no possibility of mating before the age of 7 or 8 years.
Female pandas are fertile only once, two to three days a year, during the spring season, between March and May. They leave their partner after mating and raise their young alone. Female giant pandas give birth to a baby every two to three years, from four to eighteen years old.
The gestation of giant pandas lasts 3 to 5 months, and the young are usually born in late summer (most often August) in hidden hollow trees or natural dens, where branches, dry grass, etc. are transformed into a kind of nest.
Normally, giant pandas give birth at each litter to a unique baby. Even si a female has two cubs, she normally chooses to take care of one of them and to abandon the other.
HOW LONG DOES A GIANT PANDA LIVE?
Pandas can live up to 30 years in captivity. Wild pandas can live up to 20 years in nature.
With medical and nutritional support in captivity, giant pandas can live to age 30 and over. The oldest panda recorded was Jiajia, in the Ocean Park of Hong Kong. She died at the age of 38 in 2016.
In nature, the breeding season of female giant pandas lasts about 10 years. A female panda is therefore capable of giving birth to four to six pups at most in her life.
Due to the low birth rate and the vulnerability of the young, it's no wonder that pandas are on the verge of extinction.
A wild panda raises around five cubs during its lifetime, half of which die before reaching maturity, so the rate of pandas reaching adulthood is just above the two needed to maintain population.
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