Is It Possible To Keep a Panda As a Pet?

Who doesn’t love Pandas? To many people, they are the most adorable and cute animals that walk the earth. But would they make good pets? Let’s find out.

Let’s start with the short answer.

Can Pandas be good pets? No, because Pandas are an endangered species. There are only around 2,000 pandas left in the world. But even if you were allowed to buy a Panda you would need to grow a huge field of bamboo because Pandas eat around 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of Bamboo each day.

Let’s dig a little deeper and learn more about the Panda to see why they won’t make good pets even if you were allowed to buy them.

Start by forgetting all you think you know about Pandas!

Panda bear in tree

There are a ton of misconceptions about the panda bears.

People think they are cute bears you can cuddle. This could be further from the truth that’s we will see below. There’s just something about their appearance which makes them look more like a teddy bear than a dangerous bear.

So I guess is only natural that your first thought is to jump in and start hugging the poor thing.

And by the way, they don’t sneeze all the time 🙂

Panda slide to be left alone and they typically eat bamboo for around (at least!) 10- 15 hours per day. They are not social animals and they don’t like to be petted and patted on the back either.

So why can’t I own a Panda bear as a pet?

The primary reason is that they are an endangered species. All Giant Pandas (even those in the Zoos) are owned by the People’s republic of China.

But let’s try and ignore that fact for a minute and take a closer look at how you would go about keeping a Panda as a pet.

Pandas look super cute and adorable but actually, they are not all that friendly.

There are numerous occasions of people being attacked by pandas by getting too close in a Zoo or in nature. They have super sharp claws and they also have a very strong bite.

How much does a Panda cost?

As mentioned above all pandas in the world are owned by China. That means that each Zoo has to rent it from the Chinese government. They will typically do so for 10 years and the contract will cost almost 1 million dollars (!). And that number is per year so the 10-year contract cost around $10 million for a Zoo.

This is one of the main reasons you won’t find pandas in every Zoo even though they are one of the most popular animals in the world.

And then we haven’t even started to talk about the running cost of having a Panda. Let’s You know they will primarily eat bamboo. The Zoo in Edinburgh spends around $88,000 of bamboo each year, just to keep the pandas happy.

So that’s another good reason why you can’t have a panda a pet.

Because even if you could convince the Chinese government that you are a perfect fit, you (probably) couldn’t afford to keep it for more than a few weeks! Even if they gave it to you for free.

How about the Red Pandas, can they be kept as pets?

If you’re still dreaming about pandas you might be wondering if you can have a Red Panda as a pet.

The red panda kind of looks like the big black-and-white Pandas. They are a lot smaller and they are more like a Raccoon. Sorry, you can’t keep a rent pit either. They are protected by the Washington convention from being kept as pets.

They are also listed as an endangered species.

It has been estimated that there are around 5000 red pandas left in the world. Around 80 of those are kept in Zoos. So that’s probably the best place to go to take a good look at the Red Panda.

How about and other countries like India, U.K, Canada etc?

No. There isn’t anywhere you can keep a Panda as a pet. Or get your hands on one for that matter.

As mentioned above, all the Pandas are owned by the Chinese Government and they are not permitting anyone to buy or sell Pandas. Anywhere.

Jackie Chan has two Panda bears

Apparently, you can have a Panda bear as pets if you are rich and famous.

AND if the Chengdu Research Center thinks you will be a good advocate and create awareness about Pandas as a species.

Jackie Chan has adopted two giant Panda bears back in 2009. He paid around $150,000 for them and he became the Chengdu Panda Ambassador by the local tourism council!

Pandas are huge (and potentially dangerous)!

The final reason why you can’t keep the pandas a pet is because they are huge!

A lot of people think pandas are cute little bears you can hug and carry around like a dog.
They aren’t.

They are often called Giant Pandas, and there’s a good reason for that.

They are at around 5 feet long (150 cm) and 3 feet tall ( 90 cm) to the shoulder. The males can weigh up to around 350 pounds (160 kilograms). So as you can imagine, you couldn’t carry it around and you certainly couldn’t walk it with a leash (like a dog).

The Pandas belong to the bear family so they are more likely to behave like a brown bear than a pet dog. There aren’t many stories about pandas attacking humans but that’s probably mainly because there aren’t many pandas left in the world.

How strong is a panda?

Oh my, it’s strong!

Remember that we are talking a 350 pounds (160 kilograms) bear. They can bite really hard and they have to in order to crush the bamboo sticks with their bare teeth. They spend most of their waking hours eating bamboo.

A full grown panda can buy but almost 600 pounds of force. That’s two times the strength of the Pitbull.

Here you can see the jawbone of the Panda. It’s very strong and the joints are huge:

Panda skeleton

So you definitely wouldn’t want to confront the panda. Especially not while it is eating because he doesn’t like to get it’s dinner interrupted!

Actually, the mother Panda will often give birth to two little panda twins. That happens with one out of two pregnancies. And when that happens the mother will take a good look at the two baby pandas and select the strongest baby panda. The weakest baby will die of starvations because the mother will only feed the strongest baby.

That sounds really harsh but that’s how things are in nature. The mother is simply not able to feed to baby pandas so she will favorize the strongest one.

7 interesting facts about Pandas

Here are some amazing Panda facts.

1) The Pandas have 6 fingers

They have a tiny thumb and five fingers. That makes a total of 6 fingers. They are perfectly fitted to grab bamboo which is the main job for its mighty paws.

Panda paw

These specially-designed claws help them climb trees as well.

You only find this special feature on the front paws. The back paws have five paws.

2) Pandas are fast

Pandas can fun 20 miles per hour (30 km/h). That’s quite a lot faster than humans.

Pandas in captivity cannot run as fast as wild Pandas because they typically have a more relaxed life and doesn’t have to. After all, dinner is served every day and they are never being hunted or chased by anyone.

3) Newborn Panda cubs are tiny!

When the mother Panda gives birth to a Panda cub it’s really tiny.

Tiny Panda Cub

Photo credits: REUTERS

It’s pink all over the body and it can not see yet. It can weigh as little as 0.2 pounds! (100 grams). That’s only 1/20 of human babies. So they have a long way to go before they reach full size like the mother.

According to National Geographic, the baby cub only measures 6 inches (15 centimeters) when it’s born. That’s equivalent to the size of a pencil.

4) Pandas eat all day long

Pandas will eat around 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of bamboo every day. In order to chew and digest this enormous amount of bamboo it typically eats most of its waking hours.

They will eat up to 18 hours per day (typically 12 hours)! So there’s not much time left to do other things than chew its way through the pile of bamboo!

They will also eventually eat other stuff like plants and sometimes meat. But 99% of the meal consists of bamboo. So it’s not a very complex diet.

5) Panda bears do not hibernate during the winter

Other bears will often hibernate or at least spend most of the time sleeping, during the winter. They do so to use as little energy as possible and their body temperature will lower to match its surroundings.

But not the Pandas.

Pandas will often head south instead. They do so in order to reach warmer temperatures.

6) We only recently found out that Pandas are bears

Until 1995 we believed that Pandas were a type of Raccoon just like the Red Panda which looks a lot like the Giant Panda.

But after testing and sequencing its genome, scientists found proof that the Panda is, in fact, a bear.

7) The Panda can make (at least) 11 different sounds

We do not know what these 11 different calls mean but they have been identified by scientists.

They can growl like other bears and they can bark, huff and squeak. The little Panda babies will mostly do cute squesking noises.

What can I do to help save the pandas?

You can make a donation to WWF. They have been helping Pandas for more than 50 years and they are working consistently to create better circumstances for these two fellows.

They do so by creating habitats where pandas can live and eat bamboo. You can actually buy panda adoption kit which will give you a cute little panda teddy bear and a couple of photos.

In 1976 there were only around 1,000 wild Pandas in the world so the population has almost doubled since. There are also a growing number of Pandas in Zoos and we have become better over the years to create very good conditions for the bears to thrive in captivity.

Alternative pets that kinda looks like Pandas

Because Panda is one of the most popular animals in the world there are a lot of alternative pets that people like to name after it.

Or in some cases, people would dress up their pets to look like a panda.

Panda Dogs

Panda dogs are basically Panda looking dogs. It’s not a specific breed so to speak but more like a grooming style.

It’s a Japanese trend that has taken off over the last couple of years.

They will bleach and color the white fur to totally mimic the Giant Panda. It sounds all wrong but it’s actually non-toxic and harmless color that is meant for dog grooming.

People typically use a Chow Chow dog for the transformation and we must say they look rather convincing as wanna-be Pandas:

Chow Chow dog look like a panda

The Mastiff breed is also a great dog for being a “Panda Dog”.

Check out this Mastiff that totally looks like a pet Panda strolling down the street on a leach. The Tibetan Mastiff looks like the perfect teddy bear and the face and puffy body makes a great Panda Dog:

The Tibetan Mastiff Panda Dog

Some people will not actually color the dog’s fur but just Photoshop it and post it on social media. And if you ask me this is much better than actually having your talk going through these procedures.

This new trend has also started up quite a lot of resistance among the pet communities. People feel sorry for the dogs and it thinks the owners turn the dog into an accessory. I agree with this. But nonetheless it is quite a funny trend and I believe why it’s caused some attention in the media.

The typical answer from the owners of these panda dogs is that the dog doesn’t suffer at all. They are only using non-toxic and harmless coloring (of course!) but I still think this is a weird and wrong trend.

Stick to Photoshop and leave the pet alone!

Panda costumes for pets

You can also get Panda dog costumes. They are more harmless than actually coloring the hair of the dog.

They are often used for Halloween and other theme parties and they also look super cute. Especially on the smaller dogs:

Panda dog costume

These costumes can be found at Amazon here.

You can also find panda costumes for all the types of pets. These are not exclusively for dogs. Especially cats and other smaller pets are typically a good fit for a panda costume.

It’s rather silly but they do look funny.

Panda Hamster

People often called the Syrian hamster a “Panda Hamster”.

The Panda Hamster is not a specific breed, it’s just the Syrian hamster with black-and-white fur. They do not look much like a Panda if you ask me but they do have the black-and-white fur.

I guess you have to be really lucky if you find a Syrian hamster with perfect black dots around its eyes.

Here’s what they typically look like:

Panda Hamster (Syrian Hamster)

By the way, some sheep also looks like they have a few Panda genes in their DNA:

Panda sheep

Sources: pandanews.org, theguardian.com, natgeokids.com, bears.org.

Morten Storgaard

I love pets and I've had several pets including hamsters, reptiles, birds, and fish. I have written extensively about pets and educational content about wild animals.

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