After three to five months of pregnancy, often in the fine days of autumn, the giant panda mother will look for a dark and windless cave to give birth to her first child. To prepare, it often makes a bed with dry bamboo leaves. A newborn panda cub is very vulnerable with its eyes closed. It has a red body sparsely covered with white hair. Weak and slim, the cub cannot even stand by itself. The average new-born weight of a cub is 100 grams, ranging from 36 to 200 grams, i.e. only 1/1,000 of its mother's weight. It is apparently a baby of premature delivery. Except kangaroos, no other mammal has such a weak cub. Even a kangaroo baby enjoys a porch unlike the panda baby. So we can imagine how difficult it is to raise such a cub to its maturity.
By eating a lot of bamboos during the pregnant period, the panda mother stores nutrition for the delivery and raising of the baby. It breeds the premature cub in the cave of delivery, only walking out occasionally for evacuation. Only when the cub reaches the age of one month will the mother walk out for food and drink---but it soon returns to the cave. The panda mother almost always has the baby in her arms, warming it with her body, kissing and licking it until it can walk by itself.
The weight of a panda cub reaches one kilogram and hairs grow out when it is around one month old. However, it still cannot walk and see things. When the cub reaches three month of age, the young cub can walk and has normal eyesight. In the spring, the weight of a half-year cub has reached to about 13 kilograms. At this period, the cub begins to learn how to eat bamboos and how to live alone in the wild. The cub also drinks milk for nutrition sometimes. The weight of a panda cub reaches over 50 kilograms when he/she is one and a half years old. At this time, the cub says goodbye to his/her mother and begins to live independently. Free from hard work of pregnancy and baby caring, the panda mother could once again "fall in love" and "get married".
In the open air, grown-up giant pandas live alone and only mate when they are in heat.
Pandas living in the wild have an average life-span of 15 years, and the reproduction period of a female panda lasts 5 to 7 years, giving birth 3 or 4 times at the best. In most cases, each birth has only one baby; and quite rarely one birth has two babies. In the wild, the panda mother can only raise one baby even though she has born two at one time, which shows the hardship in giant panda's breeding.
Mating of Giant Pandas
Diseases and Natural Enemies Confronted by Giant Pandas