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The Giant Panda One of the worlds rarest animals is the Giant Panda Situated in China the Panda was once found over a much wider area of the country The Panda was thought to be a member of the Raccoon family However Scientists have started believing that the Giant Panda is in fact a bear The Panda is native to china and has been in existence for the past two million years and is sometimes called The Living Fossil The giant panda has a white chubby body with black legs and a broad band of black across the shoulders It has a large round head small black ears and a white face with black patches around each eye This panda grows to between about 1 and 15 metres long and has a short tail Adults weigh up to 160 kilograms The female gives birth once a year to one or two cubs Panda cubs are extremely tiny weighing only about 140 grams at birth Both giant pandas and red pandas can grasp objects between their fingers and a so-called extra thumb This thumb which is a bone covered by a fleshy pad grows from the wrist of each forepaw Pandas use their true thumbs in the same way as their fingers The extra thumb of the red panda is not so fully developed as that of the giant panda A giant panda eats chiefly bamboo shoots though it also eats some other plants and occasionally feeds on fish and small rodents Two species of bamboo make up most of the animals diet About every 100 years all the plants of these two species produce seeds and then die This event occurred most recently in the late 1970s It takes several years for the seeds to grow into plants that can provide food for pandas By 1980 Chinese scientists reported that at least a quarter of the giant-panda population had starved to
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