Friday, January 29, 2010


What Are They?
Are they a bear or raccoon or something else? Panda’s DNA is more like a bear and their skeleton is more like a raccoon. Scientists were arguing about whether the panda is in the bear family or the raccoon family or a family of its own. Now most scientists think that pandas are bears but some still disagree.

Pandas eat 25 to 85 pounds of bamboo every day and eat 12 to14 hours every day to get the right nutrition they need. 99% of what they eat is bamboo. Bamboo is really tough to chew because the stalks are hard. Pandas have a strong jaw muscle and flat teeth in the back of their mouth to help them chew bamboo. Pandas have a bony growth on their paw that works like our thumb and they use it to hold the bamboo stalks when the are chewing them.

Pandas are carnivores but rarely eat meat. Their stomach is made to digest meat not plants and that is why they need to eat so many plants in a day. Pandas can eat rodents, fish, bugs, and wild fruit.

Pandas Do Not Have a Schedule

Pandas do not have a schedule because they eat and sleep whenever and wherever they want. Pandas also have no home so they sleep whenever they feel sleepy. Unlike other bears, pandas do not hibernate because they have to find food every day of the winter.

Fun Facts About Pandas
They are about 70 inches long.
They are about 30 inches tall.
They weigh about 330 pounds.
Males are bigger than females.
They have a short tail.

Mating Season
The panda’s mating season is from March to May. Female pandas leave extra scent markings so that male pandas can find the females easier. Males sometimes fight for females if two males or more find the same female. They live alone in 12 square mile areas. The only time pandas interact is mating season. Pandas are quiet when they are alone. Pandas are really noisy when they are together. Some of the sounds they make include barks, honks, and growls. Click here to listen to sounds pandas make. (Sounds are on the left hand side of the page.)

Mother pandas usually give birth to one cub but some times twins are born. In the wild if twins are born one twin is ignored and dies but in zoos that is different. If twins are born in a zoo the zoo keeper takes care of one twin for a week and then switches twins so that each twin can be with its mom. Panda’s mothers are playful so they play with the cubs. Sometimes a mother panda will jump up on the cub when the cub is sleeping and it is like she is saying, “Let’s play”.

Pandas Are Very Shy Animals
Pandas sometimes get stuck in one forest because they do not want to cross human habitats. People are thinking about making “bamboo highways” or a path of bamboo that connects two forests for the pandas to walk across. This will help the pandas get to another forest without feeling scared.

Humans Are Pandas Worst Enemies
Humans are pandas worst enemies because they tear down the forests for farm land and hunt pandas for their fur. People are now trying to help pandas.

For more information click on the links below

Live Panda Cam at the San Diego Zoo You can watch what the pandas are doing right now.

San Diego Zoo Panda Photo Gallery

National Geographic Kids Giant Panda Article

National Zoo Giant Panda Fact Page

Resources I Used

Baggaley, A. (2009). Pandas. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier.

Kueffner, S. (2009). Amazing animals: Pandas. Pleasantville, New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Markle, S. (2009). How many baby pandas? New York: Walker & Company.

Ryder, J. (2009). Panda kindergarten. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Pictures I Used

Racoons by Trevor Blake

Ursus americanus (American Black Bear) by Arthur Chapman


Pictures taken by our family at the San Diego Zoo.


csitterley said...

What an informative blog post. I didn't know about the panda's "thumb" or about how the zoos work with twins. Your pictures are marvelous and match your information very well. I like the drawing that you included of the bamboo road since there wasn't one available. Your inclusion of the extra links and your resources is also helpful. I will share your blog with a class that I know will be learning about animals soon so that they can learn from your work. Thanks for sharing.

Toni Theisen said...


Excellent job. I had no idea about the raccoon or bear story. Do you believe that a panda is a bear?

An interesting bear/whale connection. Learn about Miga, one of the mascots for the Olympics in Vancouver in Feb.

Anonymous said...

Dear Abby,

Thanks so much for posting what you learned about pandas, I never knew there was so much to learn about them. I particularly liked the part about how zookeepers helped twin baby pandas get to know their moms by switching them and allowing both to have time with the mothers. That made me sad and happy at the same time!

Your report on pandas was so well written and I was captivated the whole time! Thanks so much for taking the time to write about them in your blog and teaching me about them.

Aunt Wendy

Grandma F. said...

Dear Abby,

When you said you were working on a blog post about pandas, I had no idea your finished product would be so informative and well-written. I thought the illustrations added so much to your article. (I think it was especially great that some were from your own trip to the zoo.) I also was impressed with your list of resources. Thanks for sharing.

Grandma F.

The Dukes said...

This is great, Abby. The way you organized the information you presented into separate paragraphs with clear headings made the article very easy to follow.

I wonder why the pandas do not try to eat some of the meat their stomachs are made to handle? Is it too hard to hunt for those food sources? It seems like they would WANT a break from all that eating!!

P.S. Ian and Henry have a book about pandas called "Pandamonium," have you heard of it? It's about a panda named Beckett.

P.P.S. You did a lot of research, paraphrasing, organizing of information, creating links and citing sources. How does it feel to read through your own finished product after all that hard work?!!

Carolyn Foote said...


I was so impressed by your writing and all the wonderful photographs you found.

And you left me wondering whether or not pandas are bears.

I also wonder why their eyes are covered with black fur while the rest of their faces are white fur?

I loved the drawing you did of the bamboo highway--I was not familiar with that.

I also really liked that you listed where all your information came from--that was a nice touch!

Great job :)

Linc. said...

Hey, Abby--

I thought I knew a lot about pandas because they are in the news so often, but you reported on several interesting things that I never had heard--such as the sounds pandas make, how much they eat a day, and if twins are born the way zookeepers manage to save both.

Thanks for sharing this informative writing. I'm looking forward to more such stories from you.

YeYe F.

Aunt Martha said...

Hi Abby:

Great story. I too did not know how big of a story you were working on.

I learned a lot of information that I didn't know.

It will be interesting to hear what kind of sounds pandas can make. I'm going to click on your link to listen to that.

Also did not know about zoos switching twins back and forth with the mother. That makes a lot of sense.

I will also check out the zoo cam. I have seen that before, but it's worth looking at again.

You did very well with including pictures that related to the subject you were talking about in each paragraph.

Sure wish I could eat and sleep whenever I feel like it! That sounds like an ideal life to me.

That was a very well written report, including links to other information and your use of references.

I give you an "A+" on this!!!!!

Aunt Martha

Addie Gaines said...

Wow! What a great article about pandas. I didn't know the part about the twins. It seems odd that the mother won't take care of both of them, since other animals have entire litters and take care of their babies. It is always interesting to find out the unusual facts about different animals.

I am a principal in Missouri. I heard your dad speak at our state conference last spring.

Lee Kolbert said...

Hi Abby,
I love your blogpost. I can see that you took time to think through what you were going to write and made sure it all made sense and was interesting to not only you but to your readers as well. These are the very things I have been talking to my students about. They just started their own blogs.

Right now, I'm just letting them blog and pretty much approving everything (no matter how its written). We are having many conversations in school though, about how to write in a manner that will engage their readers. You did such a good job of that. Would you mind if I used your post as an example for my 4th graders?

mrsdurff said...

I was impressed with your formatting of sources. I have difficulty getting 7th graders to format references as well as you did!

Dana Huff said...

Abby, this was very interesting. I really like your documentation at the end. You will use that in your writing your entire life!

Ben Grey said...

Outstanding job, Abby. I really enjoyed the way you wrote this post to be so incredibly informative. I never knew that pandas might not be considered bears. I also didn't know they eat so much. Can you imagine spending almost every minute of your day either eating or sleeping? I think I might get tired of bamboo if that's what I ate 99% of the time.

The pictures you picked out were perfect for the story as well.

So, what do you think? Are pandas more bear or more raccoon?

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Wow! You did a fabulous job keeping my interest and teaching me new facts about pandas. I love the photos as well as your drawing for the bamboo road. You cited resources and provided great links; I am thoroughly impressed and will enjoy showing your blog to my students.
Thank you for sharing!

Tim said...

Abby, this is a fantastic post on Pandas. I had no idea that there was ever a question about whether they are bears or not! In fact, I learned a lot of interesting things about Pandas just from your blog post. You did some really great research! Keep up the good work!

Mr. Wentworth said...

I am quite impressed with your writing style for nonfiction. Your introduction really captivated me and enticed me to continue reading. Thank you for providing all that information and inspiring me to have my own students blog about more than just books they have read. I hope you don't mind if I share this with my class?

James said...

My 3rd grade son and I read your blog and were very impressed. You did a very nice job citing your sources.

My son wants to know if you plan to help the Panda's? His other question is do you want to work at the zoo?

Gret job!

libmaryann said...

Great job, Abby! Well written, well organized and very informative. I learned so much in your report. I loved the pictures and enjoyed listening to the panda sounds on one of your links.

All your hard work is so well displayed on your blog. Congratulations! Now you can enjoy a job well done.

Debbie said...

I am very impressed with your blog. I am a technology teacher at a PreK-4th grade school. I would love to show your blog as I introduce my students to blogging. You have done a fabulous job.

Shelly Terrell said...


Thank you for sharing this great information about pandas. My sister's favorite animal is a panda. I'm sharing this with her because she loves seeing pandas! I have also posted a talking panda on my wiki for my Children's English class in Germany,

brette.lockyer said...

Thank you for your informative blog. It is very easy to read. I hope to show it and read it with my Grade 2 class in Melbourne Australia one day.

Carol said...

I'm a literacy coach in Denver. I am working with two fourth grade writing classes right now. I can't wait to get to school Monday to show them your blog. I'm thinking they will want to try their own. Thanks for creating a great example for them to use!
Carol Wilcox

Richard Schwier said...

Thank you, Abby, for this great post about Pandas. I have a daughter and grandchild who live in San Diego and who have a family pass to the San Diego Zoo I am sure they would love to to share with you. If your family is ever going there, please get in touch and I'll be happy to help.

All the best to you (and your Dad, who I have followed on Twitter for a long time).


Trangwales said...

Hello Abby
Great blog! Ioved the way you organised the facts and pictures. I never heard about the bamboo roads to link different forests before. I wish my trainee teachers could cite their sources like you do! Well, it's 0330 here in North Wales (UK) and the snow is falling hard.
Uncle Trang

Tami Thompson said...

I appreciate all your hard work gathering information and writing about pandas. Thank you for sharing all of your work on your blog. I read somewhere that the scientists at panda conservation centers in China are trying to get captive-bred pandas to try different foods like carrots. The pandas get more nutrition from a varied diet.
You are such a good non-fiction writer. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Robin Ashford said...

Wonderful job, Abby. Your story included text, photos, drawing, sound, links to great content and included resources used. Using such a rich mix of content made your story very interesting and learning about Pandas was fun. And then you shared it with the world. Thank you, Abby!

Polly said...

Wonderful, wonderful blog! Abby, this was soooooo interesting. Wow, did I ever learn a lot about pandas, which I'd never known before. You done an excellent job, and I know you had to do a great deal of research also. This blog was a great piece of art, along with information. Thanks so much for sharing with everyone. One never gets too old to learn something new, and I'm 60 years old. I remember you from visiting the Eleanor WV Post Office with your parents, plus Aunt Martha. I look forward to being able to read further blogs from you. Congratulations for a job well done!!

Keith Ferrell said...

Great blog, and super post Abby! If it's all right with you, I'd like to use your blog as an example to show my 4th and 5th grade students. I've been looking for stellar examples of student blogs and I found yours via Twitter and my PLN. I'm a computer teacher in Singapore, so just know, your words are reaching around the world.
Keep up the great work!

Abby F. said...

Thanks everyone for all the comments.

@Toni Theisen @Ben Grey – I think the Pandas should be in their own group because Red Pandas are in their own group.

@The Dukes – No, I have not heard of Panamonium. It feels good to read through all of my hard work that I did because I know all my hard work is paying off.

@Lee Kolbert @ Mr. Wentworth @Keith Ferrell – I do not really mind if you use my blog to show your class.

@James – It’s kind of hard to help the Pandas because we don’t have any here in our zoo. I kind of want to work at the zoo, but probably not.

Sadhna True said...

Dear Abby,

We enjoyed your panda post so much! Sitara doesn't think the panda is a bear, and I told her that she has to be a scientist when she grows up and show all those other scientists why they are wrong! We learned a lot from your post. It makes us miss the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where we got to watch Tai Shan grow up. He's now going home to China.


Katie said...

I enjoyed your report on Pandas. You did a great job of organizing a huge amount of information.

Since I live near Washington, DC I thought you might be interested in our "baby" panda Tai Shan who is now 4 years old and will be returning to China this week.

Gary said...


One of the things I admired most about your panda essay is that you (or your family members) took the photographs.

There was also a good deal of interesting information contained within the well-written post.

Anonymous said...


You did a wonderful job on this post! You had so much information to give! It was really cool to know that pandas are very shy, and they they are not on a schedule. I never new that! I love pandas and found this very interesting! Thank you!

andrea said...

hi abby myname is andrea iam 8 years old and i live in cork i like your sight i will be rithing a report on a panda and i read your stories and it gave me some ideas thankyou from andrea