Giant Panda

NAME

TITLE
Love The Giant Panda

GENDER
Female

AGE
13

FOUND
China

CONSERVATION STATUS
Vulnerable

This 13-year-old lady loves the solitary life tucked away in her temperate forest. She spends her days roaming around always with the thought of bamboo on her mind. She must eat a lot of it to keep her energy levels up, particularly now that she is expecting a lovely little surprise, a cub. She must make sure everything is ready for her new arrival and will search for the perfect den, all the while eating as much bamboo as she can.

The icon for wildlife conservation, the giant panda is beloved around the world, and for good reason! These adorable bears, found only in the mountainous regions of central China, were heading rapidly towards extinction. But with a huge push for conservation efforts in the ‘60s, the giant panda has moved from the classification of rare to vulnerable, now with around 1,800 in the wild. There are 67 panda reserves in China that protect around two-thirds of the giant pandas in the wild and more than 50 per cent of the giant panda's habitat.

For most people, the only way to see a panda is in a zoo. Because of their iconic black and white markings, they become invisible in the masses of bamboo they hide in. And they spend a lot of time with the bamboo. They need to eat around 28 pounds of the stuff a day to fill them up since they get little energy from it, which takes half the day to accomplish. This makes them a folivore, a herbivore specializing in eating leaves, yet they belong to the order Carnivora since they still have the digestive system of a carnivore.

Pandas are solitary creatures with an incredible sense of smell to help them to avoid one another. The only time they come together is to mate. Mating in captivity has been something that is notoriously difficult with natural mating very rare. The female will give birth to 1-2 cubs at a time, but in the wild, only one of the twins will survive as she cannot produce enough milk for two. She will choose the stronger of the two and leave the other to die. The babies are tiny, blind, and pink. At this time they are very vulnerable to predators, especially if the mother leaves the den to feed. They will feed on their mothers nourishing milk and will stay with their mothers until they are up to 2 years old. Their mothers will wait around 2 years before giving birth again.

They are an incredibly important part of their temperate forests and are known as umbrella species. With the protection of the giant panda, many more species will be saved in the process as well as the local communities. Their greatest threat is habitat loss. Development of infrastructures such as roads, dams, and railways are shrinking and fragmenting their home making it harder for them to find new bamboo and mates. With a range already very small this is a real problem and further work to protect their habitat is crucial.

HOW TO HELP 
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals. 

With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals. 

​The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.

To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/

SOURCES