A party of giant pandas have been photographed in an almost human-like situation as they socialised around a table at Chongqing Zoo in China.
Four of the protected and endangered creatures delighted onlookers at the zoo when they sat at a table together to share a snack of apples. According to sources, the pandas can often be seen dining together, and have become minor celebrities as their antics are captured on video and shared online.
In one of the photographs taken recently, the animals are seen sitting bolt upright to tuck into their food, looking like humans dressed in panda costumes, and observing perfect dinner-table etiquette.
According to the WWF website, pandas remain an endangered species, despite their exalted status and relative lack of natural predators.
Past threats from humans have meant that only around 1,800 pandas are alive today in the wild.
There, they live mainly in temperate forests in China’s south western mountains, where they survive on a diet almost exclusively of bamboo, of which they eat between 12 and 38 kilos (26-84lb) every day.
Pandas are born tiny — around 1/900th the size of its mother — but can grow up to about 300 pounds in weight as adults. When the giant panda was hunted almost to the point of extinction, China started a programme to bring them back from the brink, creating and extending forests of bamboo.
Now revered, they have become China’s national symbol and are often presented to other countries as symbols of diplomacy and friendship. Edinburgh Zoo is home to two giant pandas — Yang Guang and Tian Tian — until the end of the year.
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