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Panda pulling power – why are they so cute?

 

My mum was forever telling me to hurry up as a kid just like this wild panda mother with her cub.

She’s obviously impatient and hasn’t got time to wait for her youngster to stop and sit down so she just pulls the cub by the scruff of the neck down the mountain side. I immediately said ‘Aah isn’t that cute’ when I first watched the clip.  It made me smile because the cub reminds me of a naughty toddler. Pandas appear to affect everyone – young and old, male and female.

But why? What is it about giant pandas that make us all go ga-ga?

Here are 6 reasons why pandas may be so popular:

  1. A flat face and large black eye patches give the giant panda a child-like appearance.  As humans we are more attracted to species that resemble ourselves. Toy manufacturers are well aware of this preference and over the years the teddy bear has evolved so that their snouts have shortened
  2. Pandas sit up vertically to eat and hold food with their front paws
  3. They look soft and cuddly, suggesting comfort and security
  4. They appear harmless. Pandas do not have to kill for their food. Bamboo makes up 99% of the panda’s diet (this is where some carnivores lose out in the popularity stakes)
  5. It’s distinctive black and white markings are eye catching, making it easy to identify
  6. It’s clumsy and clownish, reminding us of infant babies learning to walk. (This is actually due to the extremely heavy-boned nature of it’s skeleton)

Panda cubs are funny to watch but seeing them in their natural habitat is incredibly rare. Due to expanding human populations and development, wild pandas can now only be found in 20 or so isolated patches of mountain forest in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces of south western China where new roads and railways are increasingly fragmenting the forest and isolating panda populations.

This panda mother and cub video footage was captured in Sichuan, at an altitude of 2900m which is prime panda habitat. It’s at this altitude where there is a mixture of broad-leaved and conifer forest, deciduous maples, cherries, basswood and paper birch which are mingled with coniferous evergreen spruces and hemlocks. It’s also where the lushest bamboo grows, including the larger species, such as umbrella bamboo, that forms the giant panda’s main diet in spring.

As part of WWF’s Giant Panda Conservation Programme, over 100 infra-red cameras have been set up in nine nature reserves. These camera traps can help us assess the impact of human activity as well as monitor an array of other species including the equally loveable red panda and golden monkey. We also get a better understanding of how pandas behave in the wild with very little disturbance so let’s hope we get some more fabulous footage of wild pandas playing, sliding down mountains and generally being cute!

What’s your favorite thing about pandas? Use the comments section below to let us know.

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