National Panda Day Date in the current year: March 16, 2024

National Panda Day National Panda Day is celebrated every March 16 to raise awareness of one of the world’s most recognizable animals that desperately needs protection: the giant panda. This species has become synonymous with conservation efforts because it is the symbol of the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly named the World Wildlife Fund).

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), also known as panda bear or simply panda, is a bear species endemic to a few mountain ranges in central China. It is instantly recognizable due to its rotund body and black-and-white coat (although the Qinling panda, a rare subspecies of the giant panda, has a brown and white coat).

The classification of the giant panda used to be debated because the species shares characteristics with bears and raccoons. However, molecular studies have confirmed that the giant panda is a bear. Contrary to a common misconception, though, the giant panda is not related to the red panda. The former belongs to the bear family (Ursidae), whereas the latter belongs to its own independent family Ailuridae.

For a long time, giant pandas were an endangered species. Their population was significantly reduced throughout the 20th century due to continued habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation, farming, and other human activities. Another factor that contributed to the shrinking number of pandas was a very low birthrate.

When the World Wildlife Fund was formed in 1961, it chose the giant panda as its symbol. The logo was inspired by Chi Chi, a female giant panda that became the star attraction of London Zoo in 1958. It was designed by one of the WWF’s founders, Sir Peter Scott, who described the giant panda as “an animal that is beautiful, endangered, and loved by many people in the world.”

Thanks to the conservation efforts of the Chinese government, the WWF and other conservation organizations, zoos and other stakeholders, the population of the giant panda has increased over the past few decades. The species was reclassified as vulnerable in 2016. However, vulnerable species still belong to the threatened category, and giant pandas still require conservation efforts to survive in the wild.

The origins of National Panda Day are unclear but, judging by its Twitter account, it has been observed since at least 2017. The main goals of the holiday are to raise awareness of the vulnerable status of the giant panda, support conservation efforts, and promote the protection of the giant panda’s habitat from urbanization, climate change, and other factors that contribute to habitat destruction.

There are many ways to celebrate this amazing wildlife holiday. You can learn more about pandas and share the facts you’ve learned with others, check whether your local zoo has a panda exhibit, support conservation organizations, panda sanctuaries, breeding and research programs by donating or spreading information, watch a documentary about pandas, symbolically “adopt” a panda, wear panda-themed clothes to start a conversation, and spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #NationalPandaDay and #PandaDay.

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National Panda Day, environmental observances, unofficial holidays, observances in the US, giant panda