China’s Panda House is devoted to the preservation and conservation of the iconic giant panda, which has become a symbol of its native country, China as well as of animal conservation. Here the pandas are kept in specially designed enclosures and are monitored by specialist caretakers so that the creatures are kept in optimal health and contentment. Although visitors may observe these fascinating denizens of the wild, the primary focus of the establishment is the welfare of the giant panda.
Giant pandas are critically endangered, and it is thought that their only hope for survival is conservation programmes. The Chinese government and conservationists have focused efforts on this hugely popular and esteemed creature, and efforts to preserve the panda seem to be bearing positive results. One of the key problems with the preservation of pandas is their naturally low birth rate and the difficulty of breeding them in captivity.
The exact taxonomical classification of pandas has been an issue of some debate, as the panda shows affinity with both bears and the much smaller raccoons. However, now most scientists believe that the panda is a genuine bear, although in the wild its diet consists almost solely of bamboo. It is thought that the panda diverged from other bears in its evolution many thousands of years ago, and its closest existing relative is thought to be the South American spectacled bear. Because of its unique characteristics, the panda has been described as a living fossil.
Although pandas have a largely plant-based diet, its digestive system is not particularly well-adapted to this diet. As this diet provides relatively little protein and nutrition, pandas must eat for continuous periods and spend little energy on moving around.
Although pandas are often thought of as cuddly and lovable, they are in fact wild creatures and do not generally form close relationships with humans. However their lovable appearance and unique characteristics have assured that they have remained in the forefront of conservation and breeding efforts.
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