ImageThe giant pandas in the new issue of Zoobooks are mysterious animals. For many years, people weren’t sure whether they were more closely related to raccoons or to bears. Today, scientists agree that pandas’ DNA shows that they are bears. But they’re still very different from other bears. Pandas eat a lot more plants than any other kind of bear—over 90% of their diet is made of bamboo. And while giant pandas can reach up to 400 pounds, they’re still a lot smaller than grizzly and polar bears.

Lots of the things that make pandas different are part of what make us love them. They actually have a lot in common with human babies. They have round bodies and large, flat faces. Plus, the black patches of fur on their faces make their eyes look huge. Pandas are playful too—they’ve been known to slide down snowy hills on their bellies for fun, just like human children go sledding!

Pandas are very unique animals, which makes it all the more important to protect them. There are fewer than a thousand pandas left in the wild, and the bamboo forests they live in are often in danger of being cut down. We all need to do our part to keep pandas safe for years to come.