Pandas Falling Off Things

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sharonang / Pixabay

In honor of the Giant Pandas coming to the Calgary Zoo this month, I thought I would pen a quick article about the creatures with what kind of information I could drag up from trawling the internet.

My coworker and I got into a discussion about pandas and their natural predators after watching a video showing pandas falling off of things. After viewing such a video, it was hard to conceive that such slow, lumbering creatures would be able to defend themselves from anything that decided it wanted to make a meal of them. Perhaps they had no natural predators, we speculated. But what about tigers, I asked; there are tigers in China, and even if the populations of both species are significantly smaller than they once were, they must’ve had contact in the past.

Some quick Googling put our speculations to rest. As it turns out, pandas have a handful of natural enemies, though tigers are not one of them. Tigers, even when populations were higher, are found mostly in the plains and jungle regions of East Asia and Southeast Asia. Pandas find their natural habitat in the mountain regions of China.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s website, pandas are far more likely to meet snow leopards (though low chances of that statistically as snow leopards are also endangered), yellow-throated martens, and golden jackals. These predators are more of a threat to the panda cubs rather than the adults. And even though pandas seem gentle and mild-mannered, they are capable of defending themselves as well as any other bear. They have the weight, jaw power, and claws to back them up. I suppose the premise of a panda mastering martial arts as the protagonist of an animated film isn’t as farfetched as I initially had thought. (Though let the record show I wouldn’t put my money on Jack Black in a fight.)

As most of us probably are aware, pandas’ biggest threat is humans. Not only to their natural environment of bamboo forests, but also in the form of poaching. In terms of conservation, I personally cannot think of any other animal that the world seems to so unanimously agree upon helping. That Calgary has a chance to host the pandas is a unique opportunity to learn more about what we can do to help. Maybe I’ll catch a few of you down at the zoo!