Pandas Not Lonesome Animals As Previously Believed

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Mar 28, 2015 10:35 PM EDT

Giant pandas are a lot more social and flirtatious according to a new study that suggests there's more to pandas than we think. The study was published online in the Journal of Mammalogy and showed evidence that pandas are not lonely or reclusive but are actually quite social as they keep each other company for weeks at a time, according to Discovery News.

The researchers come from the Michigan State University and for the research they attached GPS collars on five giant pandas and sent them back to the wild at the Wolong Nature Reserve in China.

"Pandas are such an elusive species and it's very hard to observe them in wild, so we haven't had a good picture of where they are from one day to the next," co-author Vanessa Hull stated in a press release.

Each panda was named according to their caretakers. Pan Pan, Mei Mei, and Zhong Zhong are three adult females while Long Long is a younger female and Chuan Chuan the only male panda.

For over two years, Hull and her team were able to track the social life and activities of the pandas. The adult females Mei Mei and Chuan Chuan favored each other's company together with Long Long, the young female panda. The male panda, Chuan Chuan traveled the most and would frequently spread his scent markings against nearby trees to mark his presence.

According to UPI, they were able to find out that the pandas take turns in between 30 bamboo spots, their ultimate source of food and are sometimes within 10 or 20 meters of each other. This was during autumn and pandas mate in spring so it was probably not mating behavior. Hull explained that this would suggest that the pandas were in direct interaction.

"Pandas seem to be quite happy to have other pandas nearby," says Stuart Primm of Duke University in Durham to the New Scientist. "They're not charging around defending mutually exclusive territories."

Hull and her team's experiment is said to be just the first glimpse of what pandas really are.

"We hope the Chinese government sees the value of doing this kind of study and encourages more of it in the future," she added.

Pandas are regarded as endangered species and are found in the mountain ranges of south China. The behaviors of these creatures are largely unknown because tracking them has been banned by the Chinese government, according to Maine News Online.

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