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The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), also known as the giant panda or panda bear, is a species of mammal from the bear family (Ursidae). As a symbol of the WWF and sometimes also of species conservation in general, it has gained worldwide fame despite its very limited range. In older German literature, the giant panda is also called the bamboo bear or pawed bear. The bear's endangerment status was lowered from endangered to vulnerable by the IUCN in 2016, as populations are currently recovering somewhat. According to estimates based on the latest official census, there are over 2,000 pandas living in the wild, as at least 1,864 pandas were counted in the wild in 2015.

Giant pandas reach a head trunk length of 120 to 150 centimetres, and the tail, like all bears, is only a stub about 12 centimetres long. The weight of adult animals varies from 75 to 160 kilograms. Giant pandas are largely similar in build to other bears, but stand out for their contrasting black and white colouring.

The basic colour of their dense, woolly fur is white, the legs are black. The black of the front legs continues over the shoulders, forming a belt that mostly encircles the front body. The ears, the area around the eyes and sometimes the tip of the tail are also black.In contrast, the population in the Qinling Mountains, which was recognised as the first official subspecies in 2005, is characterised by a brown and white colouration.

The reasons for the striking colouration are not exactly known. There are discussions about deterrence of enemies, better thermoregulation or camouflage.