Pandas playing

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Panda playground
A pair of giant pandas play with children's playground equipment and eat bamboo on June 5 inside the Panda House at the Beijing Zoo in China's capital city.


Low birthrates and the continued destruction of their natural habitats have made giant pandas a conservation-reliant endangered species, which means they are constantly in need of wildlife intervention to reduce threats.


Although many tourists visit the Panda House to catch a glimpse of one of the most famous endangered animals in the world, the best place to see pandas is at the Chengdu Panda Research Base. The nonprofit facility in Chengdu, Sichuan, was founded in 1987, an effort to improve conservation and breeding of giant pandas. By 2008, the facility boasted a population of 83 pandas, and there have been 124 successful births in the last 20 years.


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Panda relaxing on ledge

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Settling in for a nap

A giant panda dangles his legs over the side of a stone platform inside its zoo enclosure.


Although giant pandas spend a large amount of their time lazing around and eating bamboo, they can also be notoriously playful. At the Bifengxia Panda Base, located in Ya'an, Sichuan, staff set up a webcam to follow four rambunctious panda cubs, all of whom are under 2 years old.


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Panda eating bamboo

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Bamboo for breakfast, lunch and dinner

A giant panda chows down on a large stalk of bamboo, one of the species' favorite foods.


Despite their classification under the Carnivora order, the diet of giant pandas consists of 99 percent bamboo. However, they have been known to stray from their usual bamboo-only diet to feed on other grasses, tubers and sometimes even small rodents or carrion.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Photos: What giant pandas do for fun
Adorable giant pandas play, sleep and eat inside the famous Panda House of the Beijing Zoo.