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Panda Updates- Monday, August 21

Hello everyone, Christina from the Panda Care Team here! Today I wanted to talk about another cool adaptation of giant pandas, their famous black-and-white coats. It might seem like a bear with stark white and black patterned fur might stick out like a sore thumb in a lush green bamboo forest. For a long time, their coloration was a mystery to scientists and researchers, but recently it has been discovered that this coloring and pattern actually works quite well as camouflage in both the summer and the winter.

It is no surprise that in the winter when it stays dark longer and there is snow on the ground that pandas would pretty easily blend into their snowy surroundings. But in the spring and summer when the forests are bright green, the black-and-white pattern has actually been found to camouflage pandas very well from their predators, which in the wild are mostly large cats such as tigers and wild dogs. By studying how the eyes of large cats and dogs work, researchers were able to determine that from far away, the pandas’ coloring helps them blend into the forest around them. The large blocks of black and white help to break up the body outline of the panda and makes it very difficult for predators to make out. The black patches also help to blend into the shadows from the trees, tree trunks, and the dark ground. The bright white can easily get a brown tint from the dirt, as well as reflect the green from the leaves all around them. So, what might seem like an interesting color pattern to us actually works very well to protect pandas in their natural environments!

Christina
Panda Care Team

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