Seen as "national treasure of China" as well as a symbol of peace, panda (Chinese: 熊猫, short for "giant panda (大熊猫)" in Chinese) is an endangered mammal winning great attention from all over the world. Two researches done in 1970s and 1980s showed that there were some 1000 wild pandas in about 37 counties of China, in a habitat of around 13,000 square kilometers. Another survey by the State Bureau of Forestry of China in 2006 got a result that the amount of wild pandas in China increased to 1596, with 161 being reared in pens. As the rarest breed of ursidae, giant pandas have been listed as one of the endangered animals in the world.
With the scientific name "猫熊(mao xiong)" in Chinese, giant pandas are commonly called "熊猫(xiong mao)" in mainland China as a matter of fact, which is a reversed pronunciation of their scientific name. So why the "inaccurate" name "熊猫"? The reason for that can be traced back to the first half of 1900s when reading from right to left was still the customary way in China: On one occasion, the former Chongqing Beibei Museum exhibited some specimens of giant panda with the name "猫熊" which should be read from left to right, but journalists used the name in a reversed way according to the reading way at that time, hence, "熊猫" was widely known to the public and passed down to this day.
With particularly favorable natural conditions, Chengdu of Sichuan Province has been being home of pandas. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which is equipped with world-class facilities for pandas, is so far the biggest and most renowned panda base with most pandas among all the zoos and parks China as well as the most popular choice for tourists to visit pandas in the world.
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