Fact #9 - Answer

Giant pandas are cute, fluffy, black and white animals we’ve all enjoyed watching in funny YouTube videos. But they are also legally owned by China, all except for 2.

If you’ve been lucky enough to see a panda at the zoo, then technically, you’ve only seen a panda on loan. That’s because China, the only place in the world that pandas are found, has legal ownership of the current panda population, which is around 1,860 in the wild and 350 in zoos, of which around 50 are outside of China.

Interesting, this is actually a political activity. In 685, Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas to the Japanese ruler. And in 1972, the US President was gifted two giant pandas as a thank you gift for his visit. China changed its panda-free-gifting practices in 1984 and now loans out their pandas to countries it aims to build good relations with. But they also make them sign a contract stating the pandas are on loan to the country, can only stay for ten-years, and any offspring are also property of China.

There are only 2 pandas still alive that were gifted before the ‘we-own-all-the-pandas’ policy. Xin Xin and Shuan Shuan were born to pandas given to the Mexico Government in 1975. They live in Mexico City in at Chapultepec zoo, if you fancy visiting them.

So, these two are the only giant pandas in the world that are not Chinese. And they’ll also be the last, as they are both females.

Other panda facts:

  • Pandas eat for 12 hours a day, munching on up to 12 kgs of bamboo every day!
  • Baby pandas are not born black and white, but pink. They are only the size of a pencil and are completely blind for the first 6 to 8 weeks of life.
  • Female pandas only ovulate once a year and are only fertile for two or three days, which is the reason they struggle to breed in captivity and their numbers are dropping in the wild.

Want to learn more about pandas?

The Truth or Poop Book Series