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The Panda Bear Ailuropoda melanoleuca is a probably the most famous endangered animal in the world The Panda only lives in six small areas located in China In China they call the Panda Da xiong mao which means Giant Cat Bear The Panda was believed to have magical powers that could ward off natural disasters and evil spirits Writings about the Pandas can be traced back as many as 3000 years They were even kept as pets by Chinese Emperors A French missionary first introduced the Panda to the Western world in 1869 when he sent a pelt to a Museum on Natural History in Paris France The sharply contrasting black and white coloration added to the stocky characteristic shape of a bear makes the giant panda one of the most recognizable animals in the world The head top of the neck and rump are white while small patches of fur around the eyes the ears shoulders front legs and rear legs are black When compared with other bears the head of the giant panda is large in relation to its body The front paw has six digits as a result of the radial sesamoid the wrist bone becoming extended to form an awkward but functional opposable thumb Adult giant pandas range in body length from about 160 to 190 centimeters 64 to 76 inches Males are slightly longer than females have stronger forelegs and are 10 to 20 percent heavier In the wild males weigh from 85 to 125 kilograms 190 to 275 pounds while females range between 70 and 100 kilograms 155 to 220 pounds At birth cubs weigh only 85 to 140 grams 3 to 5 ounces Pandas reach sexual maturity at about four-and-a-half to six-and-a-half years of age and they mate during the spring from March to May Females are in estrus for one to three weeks but peak receptiveness lasts for only a few days Litters of one
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