Hidden up in the mountains of central China, surrounded by thick forests of bamboo, Giant Pandas spend up to twelve hours of their day eating. Their diet consists almost entirely of bamboo. When winter comes around, they don’t hibernate. Pandas simply move lower down the mountain and continue their daily routine of eating, eating, and eating bamboo. Nearly eighty pounds of it a day.
The giant panda’s scientific name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca which means “black and white cat-foot”. This unusual bear is born pink and blind. Its eyes don’t open until it is at least six weeks old. The cubs also eat the feces of their mothers who can poop up to forty times a day. Perhaps that is why a group of giant pandas is called an “embarrassment”.
Red pandas, on the other hand, were once thought to be in the raccoon family because of their ringed tails and shape of their head and teeth. They were reclassified as a bear after DNA testing showed more similarities with the larger carnivores.
Though they are smaller, red pandas also consume large amounts of bamboo in the temperate forests of central China. They occasionally eat eggs and small mammals but mostly, they stick to bamboo. Be sure to never sneak up on one because the unleash a stench like a skunk does if they are frightened.
Both the red panda and the giant panda are considered endangered. Their numbers have declined steadily, especially the red panda who hasn’t had the benefits of being at the forefront of the conservation movement as the giant panda has. Deforestation is a major threat to both of these cuddly bears. Bamboo is the primary source of food, after all.
I’ve drawn both of these animals many times. The different colors of their fur make it enjoyable and challenging. I mix colored pencil and watercolor to get the colors to stand out.
Part of why I am drawn to them is because I want to help save these species from extinction. I donate a portion of the profits of my animal drawing series to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF works to protect habitats and animal species as well as fights the effects of climate change. This non-profit organization is one I am proud to support.
If you would like more information or would like to donate to the WWF, please visit their website. There’s hardly a better way to celebrate Earth Day. It’s April 22nd in case you don’t have a calendar handy.
Feel free to visit my Etsy page if you would like to know more about my animal drawings.