Pandas are bears. They have black and white fur. The black fur is on their ears, around their eyes, on their legs, and on their shoulders.
Pandas are about the size of an American black bear. They are about 3 feet (91 cm) tall at the shoulder when they are standing on all four legs. They are about 6 feet (180 cm) long. Males weigh up to 251 pounds (114 kg) in the wild. Females usually weigh less than 220 pounds (100 kg).
In the wild, pandas eat a lot of bamboo. Ninety-nine percent of the food they eat is bamboo. They eat as much as 40 pounds (18 kg) of bamboo every day. They spend 10 to 16 hours every day looking for food and eating it.
Bamboo is a grass. Sometimes pandas eat other grasses. They also eat little rodents or musk deer babies. In zoos, pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, vegetables, and fruit.
Pandas get a lot of water from the bamboo they eat. They need more water though. They drink from the fresh water streams and rivers in the mountain. Melting snow high in the mountains runs into these streams and rivers.
Wild pandas live in the mountains of central China. They live in forests of tall trees. They eat the bamboo that grows under the trees. The weather is rainy and misty in these mountain forests. There are thick clouds almost all the time.
Pandas are ready to have babies (cubs) when they are between the ages of four and eight years. They may be able to have babies until about age 20. Female pandas are ready to have a baby only once a year. This is in the springtime. There are only two to three days she is ready for a baby. Calls and scents bring the males and female pandas to each other.
Female pandas may give birth to two young. Usually only one lives. Panda cubs may stay with their mothers for up to three years. Then they leave her for a life of their own.