Are Pandas Considered Bears? (Similarities & Differences)

We Bare Bears feature three of the most famous animals in the world. They are Ice bear (a polar bear), Grizzly (a brown bear), and Pan Pan (a giant panda). However, have you ever wondered if they belong to the same kind? Are giant pandas also bears?

The quick answer is a big YES. Sometimes, they call giant pandas as panda bears. But, is that all that it takes to say that a panda belongs to the bear family? How are they similar or different?

In this article, you will know the giant pandas’ differences and similarities with the other bears. Does that sound good to you? Then, let’s go ahead and reveal the answer to the biggest question about pandas.

Why Are Pandas Considered Bears?

why are giant pandas considered bears
Photo Source: Britannica Kids

The simple answer is because the giant pandas are part of the same family in the animal kingdom. As mentioned earlier, they belong to the Ursidae family (scientific name).

Maybe you wonder about this Ursidae family, right? Well, let us go over some facts for you to understand their family.

The Ursidae family has common characteristics observed among its members. They have a large body with strong legs, a long snout, paws with strong nails, a short tail, and small eyes. Also, they share similarities in terms of color: black, white, brown, or a combination.

In addition, this family classifies as caniforms or simply doglike carnivores. In today’s world, there are eight living bears that you can find around the world. 

These bear species include sun bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears, American black bears, Asian black bears, brown/grizzly bears, polar bears, and panda bears.

How Are Pandas Different From Bears?

how are pandas different from bears
Photo Source: Animal Encyclopedia

Pandas differ from the other bears in terms of many things. Let’s talk about them one by one.


Perhaps, it is one of the most distinctive panda features that make them stand out among the rest. While most of the bears are single-colored or have fading shades from their original color, pandas are not.

Furthermore, a giant panda has unique black and white fur that seems designed perfectly and makes them appear to be more adorable. On the other hand, the red pandas have vibrant reddish, black, and white colors.

As an addition, they have bigger heads, unlike the other bears. They have abnormally enlarged wrist bones that serve as their thumb. It allows them to grip the bamboo, which seems to be similar to humans’ grip.


Bears are carnivorous, which means they feed on meat. That is the reason why they often advise people to stay away from them. But pandas are different because they mainly feed on bamboo.

Although there is a small percentage in their diet where they eat other food, they are still herbivores. That’s why giant pandas are usually the bears people may interact with within animal centers or zoos.

So, what do pandas eat? Jump in this article for you to know the answer to the question.

Going back, perhaps they meant to interact with humans in the first place. Studies have shown that pandas living under human care live longer than in the wild.


Without a doubt, pandas are famous worldwide. They have been the stars of the zoos that attract a lot of visitors. It is due to the same reason why they call them money magnets.

Do you know how much money zoo management spends for a panda? They spend one million dollars. Plus, the food allowance is apart from the rental fee, which costs around half a million dollars per year. Yes, it is truly a crazy amount of money just for them.

Moreover, pandas have been featured in several logos, not to mention some are very famous. The logo of the WWF or the World Wildlife Funds is a giant panda. On the other hand, the logo of the web browser Mozilla Firefox is a red panda.

Another is the fact that pandas are one of the most created, sold, and bought stuff toys in the industry of the stuffed animal market.

With that being said, you might want to check the 7 best giant panda stuffed animals in 2021.

Natural Habitat

Pandas are native to Asia. Yes, you can only see them naturally existing in some regions in Asia. The giant pandas are native to China. On the other hand, the red pandas are native to the countries near the Himalayas.

The pandas do live in rainforests, although there is a slight difference between the giant and the red pandas.

The giant pandas naturally live in a temperate rainforest, which has a very cool temperature. Most of the giant pandas live in conifer trees, which are very abundant in a temperate rainforest.

On the other hand, the red pandas can live in both temperate (cool temperature) and tropical (hot temperature) rainforests. Which gives them more chances of survival as climate change continues to happen.

If you want to know more about where do giant pandas live, read this article.


The pandas do not hibernate. In fact, because of their diet and appetite they have to from time to time, regardless of time and weather. On the other hand, the other bears have their hibernation period, during this time they are not doing anything. They don’t eat from time to time unlike the pandas.

Take note: Giant pandas are considered bears, while red pandas are not. Giant pandas are much closely related to bears. On the other hand, red pandas are closely related to ferrets. The bottom line is they are both pandas.

Check out this article about 29 Giant Panda Facts to learn more about them!

Panda and Bear Similarities

panda and bear similarities
Photo Source: Vippng

The bears and pandas are part of the Ursidae family, and there are some similar characteristics that they possess. Let’s analyze them one at a time.

Mammalian Race

All members of the bear family (including grizzly, polar, and pandas) are mammals. Therefore, they give birth to their baby and feed them with their milk through their mammary glands. It is the same way humans do breast milk feeding.

Walking Posture

The bears, including the pandas, are considered plantigrades. I know you are wondering about the term plantigrades, so here is the simple definition of plantigrades. They are the animals that walk on the flats on their feet, and they walk on all fours.

Physical Features

The pandas, just like all the other bears, do have thick fur. It protects them from their extreme environment. They also have dog-like heads, just varied in size. They have the same claws, rounded ears, and same short tails.

Is a Panda a Marsupial Or a Bear?

is a panda a marsupial or a bear
Photo Source: Live Science

The best answer is pandas are bears. Pandas are not marsupial, they are considered placental instead of marsupial.

Let me tell you what a marsupial is, so you will better understand how they are classified in the animal kingdom. So basically, they are this type of mammals that have one thing in common. They all have natural pockets, which are part of their body.

Moreover, the purpose of these pouches is to put their young here. Perhaps you are very much familiar with this with kangaroos and her joey inside her pouch on her tummy. Other marsupials are koala, wallaby, wombat and more.

Now, it is time to talk about placental animals. Placental animals are capable of giving birth to fully develop young, while marsupials don’t. Marsupials give birth to the underdeveloped.

To know more if pandas are marsupial here is a detailed article about it.

Are Giant Pandas Dangerous Like Grizzly Bears?

are giant pandas dangerous like grizzly bears
Photo Source: Animals | HowStuffWorks

Yes, they are dangerous, especially those who freely live in the wild. However, that is not always the case, especially for the man-raised pandas in the breeding centers. Since they get used to dealing with their nannies, they get fond of humans and find us no threat.

Moreover, we want to remind you about the common warnings about pandas in the wild. No matter how adorable they look, never approach a wild panda. They may feel threatened and use their strong claws and jaws that can give you severe damage.

Nonetheless, you can still have the chance to interact with them peacefully in the animal or breeding centers. Those pandas are trained to interact with humans and they fill your heart with love and joy. Also, there are programs or activities that you can join to physically interact with them, and they will cause you no danger at all.

Animal experts always tell us that animals only attack if they feel the threat in their environment and their animal instinct will automatically activate to protect themselves. With that being said, let us just respect the animals like the bears as they live peacefully in their environment.

Final Thoughts

In this article, you learned that pandas are bears. They belong to the same family in the Animal Kingdom. You also learned that they have both similarities and differences. Moreover, you have confirmed that they are not marsupials, and they can be dangerous too.

Pandas are truly one of the most adorable animals in the world. And they have been part of the widely known icons in the world.  With that being said may we all find the value of the pandas and all the other living animals in this world.

Let us keep in our mind that just like any animals if they feel threatened, they tend to get wild. May all of us respect that fact and let them live peacefully in their environment.

Below is a Pinterest friendly-photo… so you can pin it to your “Panda” Board!

Are giant pandas considered bears