A new research has revealed that giant pandas are a more social and flirtatious than previously believed.
The study, which was released to the Journal of Mammalogy, offers evidence that the famous black and white bears are not solitary creatures, as it was thought, but have complex social lives.
“Pandas are such an elusive species and it’s very hard to observe them in wild, so we haven’t had a good picture of where they are from one day to the next,” said co-author Vanessa Hull of Michigan State University.
She and her colleagues fixed GPS collars on five giant pandas at the Chinese Wolong Nature Reserve. The pandas were given some amusing names: Chuan Chuan (a male), Pan Pan, Mei Mei and Zhong Zhong (three adult females) and Long Long (a young female). The bears were then released back into the reserve.
The researchers discovered that Chuan Chuan and Mei Mei, two of the adult females, spent long periods of time together during the fall and after the spring mating season. They also accepted to their group Long Long, the young female panda.
The male Chuan Chuan traveled much more than the females did, but he made a habit of coming back to check on them. He would make his presence known with scent marking, by rubbing some odorous glands against nearby trees, while the females stayed loyal to him.
The researchers are still trying to understand the intricate sex lives of giant pandas. The Chinese government has classified pandas as an endangered species and protects them very strictly. For more than a decade, the local authorities have banned putting GPS collars on them, so the new study should reveal some more data about the secretive life of the bears.
The scientists also learned that pandas have up to 30 favorite areas where they are munching bamboo. “They pretty much sit down and eat their way out of an area, but then need to move on to the next place,” Hull explained.
The GPS tracking showed that the five panda bears returned to their favorite eating spots after leaving them for long periods of time, of up to six months. The pandas seem to remember successful feasting experiences, and return to those places after allowing the regrowth of bamboo.
The wild panda population has increased almost 17 percent to 1,864 pandas, the bears are still threatened by human impacts, habitat fragmentation and climate change.
Image Source: Fan Pop