Why Do Giant Pandas Hug Legs? (3 Cute Reasons Why!)


Perhaps you’ve seen a giant panda hugging the legs of their nannies or keepers.

But have you ever wondered why they do so?

Let’s read the answer below!

Here are 3 Reasons Why Pandas Hug Legs: 

#1 They See It as a Form Of Play And Entertainment

Hugging legs is a form of play and interaction between pandas and their keepers. Pandas keepers bond with them this way.

Moreover, the animals trust and feel safe with their nannies that they always want to get their attention. 

Even when they are hungry and want to ask for food, they hold their keeper’s legs.

So hugging legs is the perfect trick to seek their compassion, then get some food.

Watch A Panda Hugging The Nanny’s Legs Here:

In this video, the panda babies keep hugging their keeper’s legs, perhaps they need food or want to play with them.

Clearly, it wants something.

#2 It Helps Them Move Faster

Pandas hold legs possibly because it makes them move easily and faster. 

They are lazy creatures that don’t need stress, so hugging their keeper’s legs is their escape route to not crawling.

As their nanny walks, they hold her leg and enjoy the free ride.

#3 Giants Pandas See Legs  As Trees

A photo showing a panda hugging the keeper's leg.
CTRO: Asia Wire

The shape of the human leg is like that of small tree trunks and it’s a panda’s natural tendency to climb trees.

Considering this love for climbing trees and jumping from one tree branch to the other, the human legs appear as trees to pandas.

I’m sure you’ve known why pandas hug legs, but you might still want to ask “Are Pandas Affectionate to Humans?

Let’s read more to find out!

Are Pandas Affectionate To Humans?

Pandas are not affectionate to human beings as much as humans are to them.

To start with, pandas are wild animals; specifically, bears. Thus, total domestication is impossible.

Even when they are captive, their keepers take serious precautions while attending to them. This is to avoid pandas’ attacks.

Sometimes, these pandas under captivity seem to show affection to their nannies. 

For example, when their nannies enter their enclosure, they quickly run to them to smell and greet them.

Nevertheless, it will be a disaster for the panda’s nanny to reciprocate just the same way the panda did.

From surveys, pandas show this liking because of their survival. 

They understand that their nannies are the ones who give them food.

Therefore, it is safe to say that a panda’s friendliness is conditional.

RECOMMENDED READING FOR FULL GUIDE: DO PANDAS EAT HUMANS?

Can You Hug Baby Pandas?

A photo of a panda nanny hugging a panda cub
Credit to China travel.com

Yes, you can hug a baby panda

Baby Pandas are small, weak, and usually not harmful.

Presently, In China, visitors are allowed to hug and take pictures with baby pandas in:

  • Chengdu Panda Base, 
  • Bifengxia Giant Panda Base
  • Dujiangyan Panda Base
  • Beijing Zoo, and 
  • Wolong Giant Panda Center

They do this for a limited time of five minutes at the rate of $130 per person (price may change!).

But these tourist actions are not encouraged because of their high price and unstable government regulations.

This means that the government can decide to put an end to people visiting pandas.

However, even at an extra fee, the chance to hug and take pictures with a baby panda is exciting!

Can You Cuddle A Giant Panda?

No! You can not cuddle a giant panda.

Although giant pandas are cuddly-looking and very cute, you wouldn’t want to try cuddling them.

This is because they are wild animals and as such are very dangerous. 

They can harm you with their teeth and claws when they are irritated.

In addition, they can even likely infect you with a disease after a bite. 

2 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hug A Panda

Giant Pandas are Still Wild Animals

Giant pandas are wild, solitary, and antisocial animals; thus, do not like to be bothered.

They see humans as a threat and in defense, they might jump on you with their strong teeth and sharp claws.

From records, a male tourist got his foot and right hand bitten by a giant panda when he tried to cuddle and pet it.

He was severely bitten and the bite was diagnosed as an open wound with a skin infection.

Pandas have Fleas, Ticks, and Mites

Pandas have been reported to have parasitic infections.

A total of thirty-five different parasites have been observed in giant pandas.

These include six species of nematode, one of trematode, and two species of cestode.

Also, nine species of protozoa, and seventeen species of ectozoa. i.e. thirteen species of tick, two species of mite, and two species of flea.

The diagnosis from the history of people who got bitten after trying to hug a panda is confirmation.

Final Thoughts

In summary, Giant pandas hug legs because they see them as trees they can climb.

Though humans are affectionate about pandas, pandas are not affectionate about humans.

Sometimes they appear friendly to survive, especially to their keepers.

In the Pandas Tourist Centre, people can hug, hold and take photographs with baby pandas.

But for an adult giant panda, it will be dangerous trying to hug or cuddle it. 

It can give you severe injuries with the teeth or claws as well as transmit harmful diseases after a bite.

We all can agree that a panda hugging its nanny’s leg is pretty adorable! But did you know that pandas can be dangerous too?

Click here to learn how pandas can be dangerous to humans.