Once a year, people from all over come together to celebrate one of the cuddliest and most vulnerable animals: the giant panda. National Panda Day brings attention to these tuxedo teddy bears and their declining habitats.
With a little over 1,000 left in the world, the giant panda faces a plethora of risks, including climate change and health epidemics.
The world may never know why these unusual bears are black and white, but we are sure that these seven gifs will melt your heart.
A panda consumes anywhere between 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day to get all of its nutrients.
Their bamboo diet means their survival is totally dependent on habitat. Changing global temperatures could destroy one third of bamboo forests within 80 years.
While roaming their territories, pandas mark their territories by leaving feces, spraying urine, clawing tree trunks, and rubbing against objects.
Because their poo points in the direction of their travel, historically this has led to them being at a higher risk of poaching.
Read More: Pandas Are Off the Endangered List!
Because pandas are so large — weighing anywhere between 200 to 300 pounds — they do not have any natural predators.
However, snow leopards have been known to prey on vulnerable panda cubs, which are 1/900th the size of an adult panda when they are born.
Because the process of releasing them into the wild presents many difficulties, only 7-10 pandas have been freed in a decade.
Pandas are renowned for their laziness, and spend an average of 10 to 16 hours a day eating and sleeping.
Unfortunately, this is another reason pandas are so rare: breeding is not high on their list of priorities.
Pandas live in six mountain ranges throughout China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. There are now 67 bamboo reserves in the country, protecting nearly 70% of the 1.4 million hectares of the wild bamboo forest, according to the Forestry Administration.
Before China first established reserves in 1992, a large portion of the panda’s habitat had already been lost to logging and clearing for infrastructure.
A panda’s average life span in the wild is 14-20 years, where they face threats of habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging, road building, and mass tourism.