All About the Qinling Panda (12 Things You Need To Know!)

Qinling pandas are a subspecies of the giant pandas. You would be wrong if you think that pandas come in only black and white. 

In this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about the Qinling panda.

So, let’s dive in! 

Table of Contents

Family  Ursidae
Appearance    Brown and white fur 

Weight: 154– 249 lb (70–113kg)
Height: 2–3 ft (60–90 cm)
Length: 4 ft–6 ft (121–182 cm)
Diet Wood bamboo and Arrow Bamboo (Leaves and shoots) 
Habitat and Distribution  Qinling Mountains; Distributed in high-altitude areas of about 1,300 to 3,300 meters 
 Lifespan 13-15 years in the wild 
Conservation and Threats Threats:
Metal intoxication; Illegal poaching; dental abnormalities 
Habitat monitoring; Building bamboo corridors 


Qinling pandas are from the Ursidae family, where bears are from. These pandas have Chordate as their phylum. 

The cute brown bear falls under the Mammalia class of animals. They share the same family and genus as the giant panda. 

The Qinling pandas are a part of the Carnivora order. It means that they are carnivores, just like giant pandas

They belong to the genus Ailuropoda as bears and are believed to be a rare type of panda. It won’t be wrong to say that Qinling pandas are another wonder of China! 


A picture of a Qinling panda

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These cute bears are very similar to giant pandas except for some features. However, the most contrasting attribute is the color of their fur.

Qinling pandas have brown fur whereas giant pandas have black and white fur. In addition, Qinling pandas’ fur could either be dark brown or light brown with white patches.

What’s more, giant pandas are known to have black coloration around their eyes. But Qinling pandas have brown coloration that doesn’t fully go around their eyes.

It appears like more of the brown patch stays under their eyes. Furthermore, It is believed that the Qniling panda’s color came from some genetic mutation in the giant pandas.

Scientists think inbreeding is becoming more common in pandas, resulting in brown pandas. Every panda has two types of genes, one from each of its parents.

Some scientists suggest that pandas carry a dominant black fur gene and a dormant gene for brown fur.

If both pandas happen to mate, their offspring will receive the inactive brown fur gene from both parents.


Qinling pandas are relatively smaller than giant pandas. In fact,  they only grow in height up to 2 – 3 feet  (60 – 90 cm) when fully matured. 

They are 4 -6 ft (121 -182 cm)  long, and the Qinling pandas can weigh between 154 – 249 lbs (70 – 113 kg)

Although the giant panda and the Qinling panda share the same body structure and shape, the Qinling panda has a smaller skull size. 


An image of a Qinling panda eating bamboo

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Qinling pandas enjoy eating bamboo leaves and shoots in large amounts.

The kinds of bamboo Qinling pandas eat are wood bamboo and arrow bamboo. Pandas have changed their diet to bamboo because it is in excess in their region. 

They also will not need to fight for their food. Qinling pandas can get bamboo without clashing with other competitive species.

Qinling pandas will need to consume more bamboo in the winter as their metabolism slows down. 

Although they do not hibernate, a Qinling panda, like the giant panda, will limit their activity during this time. They would eat and sleep most of the time.   

Giant and Brown pandas are entirely similar in their diet. Both of the pandas fall under the carnivorous animal genre.

But, the diet of the pandas primarily consists of bamboo. It is also why they are seen eating tons of bamboo daily. Bamboo does not provide an adequate amount of nutrition to a panda.

Because of the unique digestive system of a panda, the bamboo eaten is also passed out quickly. 

The giant panda and Qinling panda will eat meat like reptiles, eggs, small mammals, and birds from time to time. But their main diet consists of the bamboo found in their habitat. 

Habitat and Distribution

As the name suggests, Qinling pandas are found in Qinling Mountain. They live in a high-altitude area of 1,300 to 3,300 meters in temperate forests.

The mountain is located in the Shanxi province, and it channels rainwater into two of China’s important rivers – the Yangtze and the Yellow. The mountain also works as a barrier between northern and southern China.

Qinling pandas are limited to the Shanxi provinces. This is because Qinling Mountain provides the pandas with a terrestrial habitat and semi-arid climate.

Both the weather and terrain are perfect for the pandas to thrive and live their lives munching on bamboo.


Qinling pandas can live approximately 13 to 15 years in the wild. Their mortality rate depends on poaching, hereditary diseases, and other infections.

Like giant pandas, Qinling panda cubs also face the highest mortality rate.

In the wild, a mother Qinling panda would give birth to two panda cubs, but only one of them would survive. 

The cub who is healthier and more active will be able to survive, and the mother will tend to the strongest panda cub as well.

If the parents of the panda are both healthy and live a long life, the offspring will also have a long life. But as Qinling pandas result from inbreeding, they are prone to diseases and infections.

This inbreeding can also pass down problematic genes to the offspring that may lead to life-threatening illnesses.

Conservation and Threats

The primary threat Qinling pandas face is metal toxication. Furthermore, you can only find the Qinling panda in the Qinling Mountain, and this causes a big problem. 

The bamboo in these mountains contains heavy amounts of copper, nickel, lead, and zinc due to pollution. The metals can lead to metal poisoning, which can be life-threatening in some cases.

Another threat to Qinling pandas is illegal poaching. A female Qinling panda was captured to be placed in the Xi’an Zoo, mated with a giant panda. 

This happened in 1989, and the mating produced a black and white panda which reportedly turned brownish as it grew older.

Other reports suggest that the female, Dan Dan, gave birth to three cubs, and none survived.

Dental abnormalities like dental attrition and fractures are also present in the Qinling pandas. 

Dental decay means losing tooth tissue, structure, and enamel, whereas fractures happen when the panda bites too firmly. These anomalies impact the Qinling pandas steadily.

Continued research about Qinling pandas and their habitat is done for their conservation. Monitoring of pandas and their habitat is also needed to conserve these pandas.

The Chinese government is trying to make more bamboo corridors and enable GPS tracking to ensure their safety. 

Quick Facts About Qinling Pandas!

  • It is the first subspecies to be recognized after discovering the giant panda.
  •  The scientific name of Qinling pandas is Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis
  • As the name suggests, Qinling pandas live naturally in the Qinling Mountains at 4,300 to 9,800 feet.
  • Qinling pandas can survive up to 20 years.
  • Qinling pandas also have the pseudo thumb like a giant panda.
  • Many Qinling pandas have black and white fur and brown fur on their chests.
  • The Qinling pandas are the rarest, with only 200-300 individuals.
  • Did you know that pandas have a set of 42 permanent teeth?
  • Minecraft has added this rarest species to their game.

When Was The Qinling Pandas Discovered?

The Qinling pandas were discovered in the 1960s, but they were not recognized as a subspecies until 2005.

What Is The Scientific Name of The Qinling Panda?

The scientific name for the Qinling panda is Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis.

Is Qinling Panda A Giant Panda?

Yes, the Qinling panda is a giant panda. The pandas share the same class, family, and order. They both fall under the Mammalia class, Ursidae family, and Carnivora order. 

The difference between a giant and a Qinling panda is their skeletal and skull size.

Both species are territorial; they share the same diet and habitat. So, in conclusion, a giant panda and a Qinling panda are similar but what distinguishes the Qinling panda is their gene mutation.

How Many Qinling Pandas Are Left?

Based on that there are 200 to 300 Qinling pandas left in the world.

Are There Qinling Pandas In Captivity?

There is only one Qinling panda in captivity as of now. Qizai is a male Qinling panda in the Qinling Giant Panda Research Centre in China.

The panda was found as a cub all alone in a nature reserve in the Qinling Mountains.


Although the Qinling panda is a highly endangered subspecies, researchers are finding a way to preserve this majestic creature. 

The panda has brown and white fur rather than its black and white counterpart, making the species unique.

The Qinling pandas are also smaller in size and have small skulls. They share their diet with the giant panda and even share their habitat. 

The Qinling panda lives in Qinling Mountain in China. The average lifespan of these pandas is 5-20 years. They suffer from anthropogenic threats like metal poisoning from the high elevated lands.

Even though there are only 200 to 300 Qinling pandas in the wild, China’s increasing pollution may disturb their conservation. However, scientists are eagerly looking for a solution to keep Qinling pandas safe. 

Just like Qinling pandas, giant pandas are also endangered and need protection. Read Do Giant Pandas Get Poached? to know why giant pandas are in danger!


Qizai – World’s Only Brown Panda Raised in Captivity