are pandas dangerous illustration

Are Pandas Dangerous?

Pandas are a living and breathing version of the cute and cuddly teddy bears that can be found in bedrooms of children (and some adults) everywhere- just a lot bigger. Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, are pandas dangerous?

Pandas are dangerous and are not as friendly as they appear. They have large claws and teeth and the size to do severe damage to humans when provoked. It isn’t a common occurrence, but when they do attack, it’s as ferocious as one would expect a bear attack to be.

Are Pandas Aggressive?

a panda eating some bamboo branch

Asking whether or not pandas are aggressive is much different from whether they’re dangerous. For example, look at the Chihuahua- they’re among the most aggressive breeds out there yet aren’t dangerous at all compared to most.

Like most bears, pandas are solitary creatures who would rather be left alone than draw attention to themselves. In a general sense, they’re not aggressive toward humans and would rather just either remain unseen or undisturbed.

When circumstances threaten to change that scenario, a group of pandas can become unpredictable, irritable, and ultimately aggressive. The feeling of threat shifts pandas into a fight or flight gear.

It could choose to flee if there’s an available route, but if there isn’t one available and it thinks it can handle a situation aggressively, it will.

Mother Panda Bears

mother panda and cub photo eating bamboo

There’s an age-old cautionary proverb to never get between a mother bear and its cubs. Not only a saying but a demonstrable fact that a mother bear will become ferociously protective if ever there’s even an inkling of threat to her cubs.

Mother pandas are no different and will be aggressive if they feel a threat to their cubs. Viewing a mother panda with her cubs may be a dramatic moment for someone who stumbles upon them in the wild, but there’s a good chance it won’t end well for that person.

Has a Panda Ever Killed Anyone?

panda in a zoo

Can pandas kill you? Well, If a provoked panda decides to attack, the results could be deadly.

There are three zoo-related human deaths caused by irritated pandas and more from the wilds of their natural stomping grounds in southwest China.

Again, these are bears through and through. Though they don’t commonly search out meat for food and are not a danger, they can go from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye concerning aggression without warning.

Do they mean to kill when attacking?

panda walking on the ground

They don’t rightly care. If a panda attacks, it’s a violent outburst that can end as suddenly as it began. The damage that can be done can end a human’s life with one swipe of its paw.

There is one area where the panda is different from other types of bears that might attack a human, and the target isn’t considered prey by the panda.

If the human’s still alive at the end of the attack and is no longer an irritation or a threat, it will likely move along if the human’s death has the same outcome. Fortunately for someone lucky enough to survive a panda bear attack, it’s not interested in eating a human or any other meat.

Are Pandas Dangerous to Other Animals?

They tend to live peaceably in the vicinity of a panda bear because other animals are not on their menu. That being said, few creatures want to take that risk and wisely keep their distance whenever possible.

However, pandas have the same attitude toward other animals as other animals. Could you leave me alone, and all will be well? If not, there’s going to be trouble.

What to do With a Panda Encounter in the Wild or Zoo Enclosure?

panda in a zoo enclosure

The popular advice is good for either situation, be it in the wild or some freak accident at the zoo.

Become as big as you can, and slowly back off from the panda. Running away is no option, as it may trigger a prey-drive-like response. A reflex or instinct to chase (and they’re faster than you are).

It will feel less threatened with any luck and will allow you to go your way. But, if that doesn’t work, there’s going to be trouble headed for you that might be survivable if you follow the same precautions given about grizzly bear attacks.

The advice given is not to fight back but to lace your fingers together with both hands behind your neck and keep your belly to the ground for as long as possible. There’s a good chance that the bear will attempt rolling you over, but go with the roll rather than fighting it until you’re on your belly again.

You will be at the complete mercy of the bear, and after some bites, mauling, digging, scratching, and pummeling, you may be able to walk away in the end.

Why does this Work?

panda eating a bamboo stick

You’re not on the menu- that’s not what the attack is all about.

However, the advice is much different for black bears because they may choose to eat a candidate who has submitted. That isn’t the nature of a panda bear attack and is typically not the reason for a grizzly attack (though grizzlies may change their minds if they’re hungry).

Pandas eat bamboo almost exclusively, and though they can eat and tolerate small amounts of rotten meat in their diet, they rarely (if ever) kill to eat. So, if the threat is eliminated, the reason for the attack wears away- which is why it isn’t wise to try fighting back.

Without the reason to attack (feeling threatened or irritated), it won’t continue the onslaught and will eventually be on its way. This method’s survival rate is greater at the zoo because help is available much faster than in the wild (if you’re on your own, then you’re on your own).

Final Thoughts

panda close-up shot

With everything you just read in this article, it may appear as though I’m trying to give the panda bear a bad rap. That isn’t the case at all, and sometimes we need to take the blinders off when it comes to a creature that is as revered as the panda.

Appearances aren’t everything, and in the animal kingdom, cute and cuddly rarely means friendly. Pandas are a unique bear in appearance and their dietary habits- but that’s about it.

They are big enough and strong enough to harm or kill a human and bear right down to the core- wild animals. Black bears are similar in size and are pretty cute and playful looking, but being more widespread, it’s more commonly known how dangerous they can be.

The panda bear is truly a beautiful creature that, ideally, is best viewed from afar.


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