A picture of a giant panda eating bamboo.

Giant Pandas in the Toronto Zoo

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Giant pandas are endangered in the wild mainly because of habitat destruction in their native China. Zoos try to breed them in captivity with some success.

The giant panda is named after the red panda because for a while for some misguided reason people believed that they were closely related even though they are really that close relatives.

The giant pandas featured in this article are the ones living in the Toronto Zoo where they are on loan from China. Because giant pandas are the iconic species of wildlife conservation, and because they are also considered to be irresistibly cute by many, if a zoo can have them even for a short time it will try to make them their most prized feature.

For example the presence of the giant pandas in the Toronto Zoo is heavily advertised, signs announcing the giant pandas are everywhere inside, and even outside the entrance of the zoo. Very few animals cause as much commotion as the giant pandas — the zoo has kept some of my favourite areas closed for about a year for giant panda related constructions.

Giant panda sign at the entrance of the Toronto Zoo.

Giant panda sign at the entrance of the Toronto Zoo on a nice winter day.

Giant pandas seem to be well adapted to cold weather because one of them was sleeping in the snow when I tried to take pictures of them. This kind of makes the polar bears sleeping in the snow look less extreme.

Giant panda sleeping in the snow in the Toronto Zoo.

Giant panda sleeping in the snow in the Toronto Zoo.

Of course when nobody is watching giant pandas just play in the snow, as this security camera footage shows.

The other giant panda was inside and finally came to the viewing area and started to eat some bamboo. This is the best picture I have managed to take through reflective glass. Notice the painted kitschy background — something that is becoming common in various zoos around the world for many animal exhibits. I just find it disturbing, but perhaps it is just me.

A picture of a giant panda eating bamboo.

Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca — 大熊貓) eating bamboo in the Toronto Zoo.

Apparently giant pandas don’t do much else all day, just eat bamboo and sleep. The former is kind of strange for an animal that is in the order of carnivora, but even though giant pandas are bears they have adapted to a vegetarian diet consisting mostly of bamboo.

Giant pandas became an iconic species for conservation and people go into extraordinary length to try to save them. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has a giant panda in its logo.

Updates: 11/March/2014

A have managed to take some better pictures of one of the giant panda’s of the Toronto Zoo.
Here is one:

A picture of a giant panda eating bamboo.

Giant panda eating bamboo outdoors in the Toronto Zoo.

And here is a short video:

Further Readings:

Giant panda on Wikipedia.
Giant panda on the Toronto Zoo website.
Giant panda cubs born at Toronto Zoo — Toronto Star.
Last updated: October 14, 2015

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