Aug 28, 2009

Pandas

by Heather Angel

After reading about the golden moon bear, I wanted to know more about bears, so I searched through my book pile and found this brief, informative volume on pandas. Written by a wildlife photographer, Pandas gives an overview of the species accompanied by many gorgeous photographs. The book tells about panda habitat, diet, behavior and mostly, why they are so endangered. Its main focus is conservation, and to that end, there seem to be more descriptions of the unique habitat than of the pandas themselves. This book states that according to the conformation of their skulls, pandas are part of the raccoon family. Yet in the book on moon bears I read that DNA studies have shown pandas to be bears. The smaller red panda is still a puzzle- is it part of the bear family, raccoon family, or one all its own? I was surprised to learn that pandas have canine characteristics- including their teeth and digestive system- and yet their main food source is a plant, bamboo. They can't digest it entirely, so they have to practically eat all day in order to get enough nourishment. And bamboo has a peculiarity that once every seventy, hundred years or so, a variety will all bloom at once, set seed, and die. It used to be that when the bamboo died off, pandas simply migrated to another area. Now with developments cutting the forest into smaller sections, the pandas have nowhere to go to find new bamboo. The other food sources they turn to aren't sufficient, and they slowly starve. These are only a few of the facts I learned about pandas from this book. I'm really curious to know how a canine animal evolved to be so dependent upon a plant species, yet unable to utilize it efficiently. I suppose science hasn't figured that out yet.

Rating: 3/5                          72 pages, 1998

12 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I never knew a panda has canine characteristics - interesting! They sure are fun to look at!

Lezlie said...

Jeane, you should do a Panda bookmark. I'll bet it would be beauteous! Actually, you should do two. That way if I don't win the drawing, I can buy one. :-)

Lezlie

Serena said...

I love pandas and I think a panda bookmark would be a great idea.

I love informative books with photos.

Jeane said...

I actually just made a new batch of bookmarks, and there are two panda ones. Maybe I'll feature them in the upcoming giveaway. (I'm no longer on the Etsy site so sorry, there aren't any for sale).

Lezlie said...

Hmm. . . Maybe a good, old fashioned barter? :-)

Lezlie

Jeane said...

Lezlie- sounds like you really want one! I'm game to trade something- shoot me an email jeanenevarez AT gmail DOT com.

I'm holding at least one aside for the giveaway, though!

Lezlie said...

Is my desperation showing? :-) I've been using your giraffe bookmark, and I love it so much! I'll be fair and try for the giveaway first, but after that, I'll have to think of something worth such a great trade!

Lezlie

Jeane said...

Well, maybe not as great as you think! The panda bookmarks aren't from my own artwork, but from magazine scrap- like the puma and flowers ones. I only have a few artwork ones left, and after that not sure when I'll make anymore. Whereas the scrap file is quickly getting converted into a plethora of bookmarks featuring animals.

Lezlie said...

Awww. I was hoping for one of your originals. I'll still enter the drawing when you hold it though! :-)

L.

Jenny said...

I didn't know any of these things about bamboo - that's awful! I am v. worried about pandas now.

TheBlackSheep said...

Pandas are such fascinating creatures. Cute and seemingly placid, but really very dangerous. That's really interesting about the canine descendency. I always assumed bear.

carolsnotebook said...

Sounds like an interesting book. The photos must be forgeous, too.