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Giant pandas are living fossils

Did you know that panda bears have roamed our Earth for over 3 million years? These 'living fossils' have outlived, the now extinct, stegodon (a big tusked elephant), and the Chinese rhinoceros. 

Bizarre botanicals : how to grow string-of-hearts, jack-in-the-pulpit, panda ginger, and other weird and wonderful plants
Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross ; foreword by Tony Avent.
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 2010.
This beautifully illustrated work presents the fascinating stories of the world's strangest plants, with specific practical tips on how to grow them at home. A lengthy introduction describes the basics of plants, their evolution, and the authors' criteria for making their selections. Entries for individual plants include a color photo to accompany the story of the plant's discovery, its habitat, fun facts, and growing tips. The authors are with the U. of North Carolina botanical gardens. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
     
PX! Book one, A girl and her panda
written by Eric A. Anderson and Manny Trembley ; illustrated by Manny Trembley.
Berkeley, Calif. : Image Comics, c2007.
PX! is the story of a young girl named Dahlia who - with the help of her giant and trusty Panda sidekick - sets off on an epic journey around the globe to save her missing father. Unbeknownst to our heroes, Dad has been kidnapped by Pollo - an evil goat mastermind bent on taking over the world, and it's only a matter of time before Pollo's twisted machinations will be unleashed. Paths will be crossed, alliances will be formed and ninjas will be punched. Will this unlikely band of misfits be able to stop Pollo in time, or is it already too late for Dahlia's dad - and the world?
     
The lady and the panda : the true adventures of the first American explorer to bring back China's most exotic animal
By Vicki Constantine Croke.
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2005.
#60; b #62;A New York Times Bestseller #60; /b #62; #60; P #62;Here is the true story of Ruth Harkness, the Manhattan socialite who took on the quest that cost her husband his life and trekked to Tibet in 1936 to capture a bear that had for centuries lived in secret in a labyrinth of cold, lonely mountains.
     

There are two panda species, the giant panda and smaller red panda.  What makes the giant panda stand out is its distinct coloring of black and white. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, and shoulders.  The rest of their coat is white.  While pandas may look cute, when provoked they will defend themselves and their offspring.

Giant pandas are listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. Unfortunately, there are only about 1,600 left in the wild. To help increase the population, zoos around the world include them in their breeding centers. More than 160 pandas have a home in these zoos.

Panda bear facts

Good at climbing trees

Live 20 years in the wild, 35 years in zoos

Swim well

Forepaws have an extra "thumb"

Has the largest molar teeth of any of the carnivores

Farming and forest clearing are two reasons why pandas no longer live in the lowland areas of China. Currently, most of the giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanzi, and Gansu provinces.

The panda diet is almost exclusively bamboo. Other grasses, the odd rodent, or musk deer fawn make up the rest of their diet. Those living in zoos are fed meals that include: apples; bamboo; carrots; rice gruel; a special high-fiber biscuit; sugar cane; and sweet potatoes.

An interesting fact about the panda bear is that it does not hibernate. Due to their diet, they can not store enough food to survive hibernation. Bamboo just does not provide enough fat, even though they spend often 14 hours a day eating it!

The giant panda is the World Wildlife Federation's symbol.  This group continues its conservation efforts to increase the number of giant pandas so the world can enjoy watching them

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff