How Much Does a Panda Cost?

Written by: Staff

Today, the Giant Panda is exclusively found in China, while the Red Panda is found in China, Nepal, and India. Both types are nearly exclusively herbivorous, primarily feeding on bamboo.

The concerted efforts made by the Chinese government, as well as zoo breeding programs, have boosted the population of giant pandas, both captive and wild.

Looked on as the ambassador for all species of endangered animals, the giant panda is a well-recognized symbol of international wildlife conservation.

Panda by RichardBH, on Flickr
Panda” (CC BY 2.0) by RichardBH

How much does a panda cost?

Pandas are loaned in pairs from China for 10 years ranging anywhere from one to two+ million dollars per year, according to this infographic.  The Toronto Zoo, for example, pays $2.5 million per year, while the Atlanta Zoo pays $1.1 million for two pandas and another $800,000 rental fee for the birth of the two cubs.

As you may or may not know, since a panda is considered to be an endangered species, you won’t be able to own one legally.

What are the extra costs?

The costs to care for a panda, according to Pandas International, is close to $10,000+ per year.  Pandas, on average, eat 25 to 35 pounds of bamboo per day.  CNN Money says the costs are closer to $100,000 per year for two pandas if they ate organic bamboo shoots.  The Memphis Zoo apparently pays $500,000 a year to feed their pandas.

A $400,000 conservation fee must be paid to China if a giant panda, while on loan, gives birth to a cub after 12 months.  During this time, the cub will be owned by China, and after the two years expire, the cub must be transferred back.

A habitat for a zoo could cost upwards of $10 million to build.  The Berlin Zoo in Germany, for instance, paid close to $9.6 million to build its “Panda Paradise.”

Tips to know:

Even though both species of pandas are currently protected to a certain degree, more protection is needed.

Pandas are thought to be quite selective with regards to the type of bamboo that they will feed on and tend to migrate according to the bamboo types and seasons. This aspect has resulted in their extreme endangerment owing to habitat destruction. Further measures and habitat restoration have to be considered to ensure that the species once again safe.

The giant panda, which has black and white patches, is the most recognizable. The same group of mammals also includes the red panda that much more resembles a fox or raccoon than a bear. They are related to the other species of bear, but genetic research suggests that there was a split about 40,000 years ago, which resulted in the animal possessing an elongated wrist bone that is similar to a thumb.

The giant panda weighs around 270 pounds and can measure five to six feet tall.  Red pandas are much smaller and closer in resemblance to the raccoon. They can measure about 1.75 feet long and weigh around 11 pounds.  The red panda also has a long bushy tail which is fox-like in appearance.

Only four zoos in the United States have pandas:  DC, San Diego, Memphis and Atlanta.

Consider adopting a panda to help the conservational efforts.  The donations are pricey, starting at $1,000, but you can be assured your donation goes to good use.

In the wild, a giant panda can live 15 to 20 years old, with the oldest panda ever on record being 38 years old.

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