A panda cub on a tree branch looks at us.

Giant panda

The bamboo bear
giant panda


World map highlighting China
Endangered Status



2 to 3 feet
adult height, at shoulder
An average refrigerator is 5.8 feet tall
A panda sitting next to a refrigerator for size comparison
bamboo and more

Pandas mostly eat bamboo, but are also known to eat bulbs, grasses, some insects, and fruit.

forest habitat


Adult Giant panda resting its head on its forearm as it sits in a tree.

Furry family tree

For a long time, scientists weren’t sure if giant pandas were bears or perhaps more closely related to raccoons. Now we know that giant pandas are indeed members of the bear family, similar to other bears in their general looks and the way they walk and climb. Giant pandas have unusually thick and heavy bones for their size, but they are also very flexible and like to do somersaults.

A newborn Giant panda cub held in a swatch of black faux fur about to get a vet check-up

Starting small

Giant pandas start out small! They weigh only about three ounces at birth, and they're hairless and helpless. The panda mother gives great care to her tiny cub. For several days after birth, the mother does not leave the den, not even to eat or drink!

Giant panda Bai Yun looks into her young cub's face as he sits on a log bench holding a small sprig of bamboo.

Roly-poly cub

The cub's eyes open at 50 to 60 days of age, and by 10 weeks the cub begins to crawl. Its teeth appear by the time it is 14 weeks old, and mother and cub spend much less time using their den. By 21 weeks, the cub is able to walk pretty well.

Bai Yun biting onto a bamboo stalk that she holds in her front right paw.

Big on bamboo

Bamboo is the most important  plant in a giant panda's life. They spend at least 12 hours each day eating bamboo. Pandas grasp bamboo stalks with their five fingers and a special wristbone. They use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers of the  stalk to reveal the soft inner tissue.

Bai Yun tearing apart bamboo stalks as her cub watches.

Really big on bamboo

Pandas use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers to reveal the soft inner tissue of the stalk. Strong jawbones and cheek muscles help pandas crush and chew the thick stalks with their flattened back teeth. Bamboo leaves are also on the menu, as pandas strip them off the stalks, wad them up, and eat them.


Are pandas bears?