The giant panda (scientific name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca, from Greek: ailuros, cat + pruning, feet; and melano, black + leukos, white) is an omnivorous mammal of the Family Ursidae endemic to the People’s Republic of China. The short snout reminiscent of a teddy bear, the characteristic black and white coat and the peaceful and bonachão way make him one of the animals most loved by humanity. Extremely docile and shy, hardly attacks man, except when extremely angry.
The giant panda is confined to south-central China. Its current distribution consists of six isolated mountainous areas (Minshan, Qinling, Qionglai, Liangshan, Daxiangling, and Xiaoxiangling), in Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces. The total territory that the species occupies is approximately 30 000 km² between 102-108.3°E (longitude) and 28.2-34.1°N (latitude), however, only 20% of this area (5 900 km²) constitutes habitat for the panda.
The species originally occurred in more regions to eastern and southern China, with fossil records indicating its presence to northern Myanmar and northern Vietnam to the south and to the vicinity of Beijing to the north. Until 1850, the panda was found in Eastern Sichuan and Hubei and Hunan provinces. In 1900, the Qinling Mountains and other mountainous areas were restricted on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The rapid expansion of agriculture in the main valleys contributed to the fragmentation of
Pandas inhabit mountainous temperate forests with dense bamboo groves, mainly from the genus Sinarundinaria, between altitudes of 1,200 to 4,100 meters of altitude. The distribution overlaps far that of the Black Asian bear (Ursus thibetanus), however, they do not compete with each other, because the ecological needs of the species are different.
In 2016 there are about 2,200 pandas, of which 400 are in captivity, including zoos.