Tuesday, August 18, 2015
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rogers Communications logo, used since 2015
Rogers Building, in Toronto, Ontario
|Traded as||TSX: RCI.A, RCI.B
S&P/TSX 60 component
|Founder||Rogers Vacuum Tube Company
|Headquarters||333 Bloor Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4W 1G9 Canada
|Alan Horn, Chairman
Guy Laurence, CEO
|Products||Landline and mobile telephony, Internet services, digital television, broadcasting, cable TV, publishing|
|Revenue||CAD$ 12.706 billion (2013)|
|CAD$ 1.769 billion (2013)|
|Total assets||CAD$ 23.601 billion (2013)|
|Total equity||CAD$ 4.703 billion (2014)|
Number of employees
|Slogan||Live like never before.|
The company claims the heritage of the Rogers Vacuum Tube Company, founded in 1925 by Edward Rogers, which started the CFRB radio station in Toronto, which was later acquired by outside interests. The present enterprise dates to 1960, when Rogers' son, Ted Rogers, founded Rogers Radio Broadcasting Ltd. That company acquired CHFI that year, as well as Aldred-Rogers Broadcasting, a partnership with Joel Aldred which helped launch CFTO in 1961. Rogers later bought out Aldred and started the current cable and wireless operations, known as Rogers Cablesystems Ltd.
The chief competitor to the company is Bell Canada, which has a similarly extensive portfolio of radio and television media assets, as well as wireless, television distribution, and telephone services, particularly in Eastern and Central Canada; the two companies are often seen as having a duopoly on communications services in their regions as both companies own a stake of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. However, the company also competes nationally with Telus for wireless services, and primarily indirectly with Shaw Communications for television service. However, Rogers and Shaw have since launched an online movie and television streaming service called 'Shomi'.
Rogers is an official Canadian media, exclusive rightsholder and partner of the National Hockey League.
HistoryIn 1925, Rogers Sr. invented the world's first alternating current (AC) heater filament cathode for a radio tube, which then enabled radios to be powered by ordinary transformer-coupled household electric current. This was a breakthrough in the technology and became a key factor in popularizing radio reception. After this invention radios became far more commonplace in the world. The All American Five is an example of a vacuum tube radio that utilized five tubes with heater filaments series-connected to produce a total AC voltage demand that matched the 120 volts AC supplied at the wall socket. No power transformers were needed in these radios
In 1931, Rogers Sr. was awarded an experimental television licence in Canada. He was working on radar when, on May 6, 1939 he died suddenly due to complications of a hemorrhage. He was 38 years old. He left a widow, Velma, and a five-year-old son, Edward (Ted Rogers). While his business interests were sold, his son later determined to carry on his father's business.
Entry to broadcastingWhile Ted Rogers was an articling student with Tory, Tory, DesLauriers & Binnington, he started Rogers Radio Broadcasting Limited, which acquired Canada's pioneer FM station, CHFI-FM. In 1962, he pioneered stereo broadcasting in FM with CHFI and also founded CFTR in Toronto.
By making available FM radios to boost FM penetration, which was only at 3% at the time, Ted Rogers was able to make more Canadians aware of FM transmitters. CHFI-FM quickly became one of Canada's most listened to FM radio stations and one of the most popular and profitable FM radio station in Canada. Rogers's interests in radio led him to cable television in the mid-1960s. He wanted Canada's fledgling cable operators to carry CHFI on a spare cable channel and the more he studied the cable world, the more he became attracted to the potential for programming choices on cable television. He entered the cable business in 1967, and was awarded television licences for areas in and around Toronto, Brampton and Leamington.
In 1974, Rogers Cable Communications expanded past 12 channels, including several multicultural channels. Through a reverse-takeover in 1979, Ted Rogers's company, Rogers Cable TV Limited, acquired control of Canadian Cablesystems Limited. In 1980, the company purchased Premier Communications Limited, which almost doubled the number of cable subscribers and made Rogers Communications the largest cable television company in Canada.
As a founding shareholder of Rogers Cantel Inc., which commenced service in 1985, the company entered the mobile phone market. The company operated a national cellular telephone network in Canada in competition with the established telephone companies. Rogers Cantel Mobile Communications Inc., which is now called Rogers Wireless, is now a public company 51% of which is owned by Rogers Communications.
Between 1979 and 1982, Rogers Communications acquired and built a number of cable television systems in the United States. In March 1989, the company completed the sale of its US cable television interests for CDN $1.581 billion.
In 1986, Rogers Cablesystems changes its name to present-day Rogers Communications Inc.
This led to Rogers Communications Inc. acquiring 40% of Unitel Communications, formerly CNCP Telecommunications, in September 1989. Unitel was granted permission by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in June 1992 to compete with the Canadian telephone monopolies in the long-distance market. In January 1993, 20% of Unitel Communications was sold to AT&T Corporation. As a result of this transaction, Rogers Communications Inc.'s interest in Unitel was reduced to 32%. In September 1995, Unitel Communications reached an agreement in principle with AT&T and certain of its bankers to restructure Unitel. At the close of this transaction, Rogers Communication no longer had an equity investment in Unitel.
On March 31, 1994, Rogers Communications Inc. completed an offer for the shares of Maclean-Hunter and on December 19, 1994, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the transaction. The publishing assets of Maclean-Hunter were subsequently combined with its existing radio and television operations to form Rogers Media Inc.
On January 1995, Rogers along with several other cable companies, added a number of new cable channels under a negative option billing plan. Subscribers opting out of paying for the new channels stood to lose much of their existing speciality channel programming. The participating cable companies were hit by both regulatory and public opinion backlash and ultimately were forced to split the negative-option channels into two separately-purchasable blocks, a move which Rogers had initially opposed as "not technologically feasible".
Going beyond wireless
In 2000, Rogers acquired Cable Atlantic from Newfoundland businessman Danny Williams. The deal, worth $151.8 million, brought Rogers approximately 75,000 subscribers. With the purchase of Cable Atlantic Rogers scrapped its plan to buy Vidéotron which was later purchased by Quebecor. That same year, they acquired the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club. In 2004, they acquired Skydome, which is the Blue Jays home venue and largest covered indoor entertainment complex in Canada. The complex was renamed Rogers Centre in February 2005. Also in 2000, Rogers bought the Arena Football League team, the New England Sea Wolves and after the 2000 season, Rogers moved them to Toronto and renamed the team the Toronto Phantoms. Due to lack of interest and poor ticket sales, the team ceased operations in 2002.
In July 2001, Rogers Media acquired CTV Sportsnet, and renamed Rogers Sportsnet that November. The FAN 590 sports radio station joined Rogers Media in August 2001 along with 14 Northern Ontario radio stations.
Rogers On Demand was launched as a home video library over cable in February 2002, and in November 2003, Rogers Cable made personal video recorders (PVRs) available to its subscribers.
In summer 2004, Rogers partnered with Yahoo! to create Rogers Yahoo!, which offers Yahoo! premium features to Rogers broadband internet customers.
In fall 2004, several strategic transactions were executed that significantly increased Rogers exposure to the potential of the Canadian wireless market. Rogers acquired the 34% of Rogers Wireless owned by AT&T Wireless Services Inc for $1.77 billion. Soon thereafter, Rogers Wireless acquired Microcell Telecommunications Inc., along with its popular Fido brand, which created Canada's largest wireless operator and only GSM provider. In December, Rogers Communications repurchased the shares of Rogers Wireless that were publicly held and proceeded to take the company private which significantly enhanced the company's operating and financial flexibility.
Coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of Rogers' launch of wireless services, on July 1, 2005, Rogers Home Phone voice-over-cable local telephony service was introduced in the Greater Toronto Area and also successfully completed the acquisition of Call-Net Enterprises Inc. (now Rogers Telecom Holdings Inc.), a national provider of voice and data communications services.
In 2007, Rogers entered a tentative deal to purchase the A-Channel stations, CKX-TV, Access, Canadian Learning Television and SexTV: The Channel from CHUM Limited, as part of the latter company's pending takeover by CTVglobemedia. This transaction was contingent on CRTC approval of CTVglobemedia's takeover of CHUM. However, on June 8, 2007, the CRTC approved the CTV transaction conditional on CTV divesting itself of Citytv rather than A-Channel, effectively voiding the deal. On June 12, it was announced that Rogers had made a new offer of $375 million for the Citytv stations. The transaction was approved on September 28, 2007, the same date when "Rogers Park" in Brampton, Ontario was officially opened.
On June 28, 2007, Rogers further offered to sell the two religious-licensed OMNI stations in Winnipeg and Vancouver as part of the Citytv deal, although the company stated that it intended to retain the multilingual-licensed OMNI stations. On July 7, Rogers also announced a takeover offer for Vancouver's multicultural station CHNM. The transaction was approved on March 31, 2008. In September 2007, Rogers has also applied to the CRTC to acquire 20 per cent of CablePulse 24, a local news channel in Toronto which was previously paired with Citytv (both stations were previously owned by CHUM Limited) but was retained by CTVglobemedia in the June 8 licence approval. However, in early December, CTV withdrew the application and announced that Rogers Media and CTVgm had come to a deal in which Rogers waived their 20 per cent stake.
On February 13, 2008, Rogers announced a takeover offer for Aurora Cable, a cable service provider in York Region, Ontario. The sale was finalized on June 12, 2008.
On December 2, 2008, Edward S. Rogers died of heart failure.
On September 9, 2009, Rogers Cable filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent Shaw Cable from acquiring Mountain Cablevision of Hamilton, Ontario, on the basis that Rogers and Shaw had effectively agreed to divide the country in half, Rogers in the east and Shaw in the west. This suit was defeated on competitive grounds and the Shaw acquisition allowed to proceed.
In 2012, Rogers Cable filed a complaint in an Ontario court against penalties levied under a 'Truth in Advertising' law, claiming that the amount of the penalties, and the requirements imposed by the law, are in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The company has also had to recognize the rising market trend of customers canceling or foregoing cable television service subscriptions in favor of cheaper alternate content delivery means such as streaming media services like Netflix, a demographic called "cord cutters" and "cord nevers." In response, Rogers is now acquiring content with a speculated cost of $100 million to begin their own competing online streaming service, Shomi, much like the American Hulu Plus, in the near future.
CEO Guy Laurence has spoken out about an upcoming change meant to jumpstart growth at the company. Laurence has not released any specific details, but says that the strategy will help allow the company’s telecom and media units to work better together.
In the summer of 2014, Rogers reported a 24% drop in profit compared to the previous year's second quarter.
Corporate governanceRogers Communications is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker "RCI".
Following the death of Ted Rogers in 2008, control of Rogers Communications passed to the Rogers Control Trust, a trust for which a subsidiary of Scotiabank serves as trustee. Ted's son Edward Rogers III and daughter Melinda Rogers serve, respectively, as Chair and Vice-Chair of the trust.
Current members of the board of directors of Rogers Communications are:
- Alan D. Horn, C.A. – Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc. and President and CEO, Rogers Telecommunications Limited
- Guy Laurence – President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Communications Inc.
- Charles William David Birchall – Vice Chairman, Barrick Gold Corporation
- Bonnie Brooks – Vice Chairman, Hudson's Bay Company
- Stephen Aaron Burch - Company Director
- John H. Clappison, FCA – Company Director
- Thomas I. Hull – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Hull Group Inc.
- Philip B. Lind, C.M. – Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.
- John A. MacDonald - Company Director
- Isabelle Marcoux – Chair of the Board, Transcontinental Inc.
- The Hon. David Peterson, P.C., Q.C. – Senior Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell
- Edward S. Rogers – Deputy Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.
- Loretta A. Rogers – Company Director
- Martha L. Rogers - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
- Melinda M. Rogers – Founder, Rogers Ventures and Vice Chair, Rogers Control Trust
- Charles Sirois - Lead Director
- Guy Laurence – President and Chief Executive Officer
- Bob Berner, Chief Technology Officer
- Frank Boulben, Chief Strategy Officer & Interim President, Consumer Business Unit
- Jacob Glick, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
- Dale Hooper, Chief Brand Officer
- Nitin Kawale, President, Enterprise Business Unit
- Deepak Khandelwal, Chief Customer Officer
- David Miller, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary
- Rick Brace, President, Media Business Unit
- Jim Reid, Chief Human Resources Officer
- Tony Staffieri, Chief Financial Officer
Assets and divisions
Main article: List of assets owned by Rogers CommunicationsRogers Communications Inc. is a diversified Canadian communications and media company engaged in three primary lines of business.
Rogers Cable is the largest cable television provider in Canada offering cable television, high-speed Internet access, residential telephony services, and video retailing. A sub division is Rogers Business Solutions division is a national provider of voice communications services, data networking, and broadband Internet connectivity to small, medium and large businesses. Rogers Wireless is Canada's largest voice and data communications services provider. Rogers Media is Canada's premier collection of category-leading media assets with businesses in radio and television broadcasting, televised shopping, publishing and sports entertainment.
Rogers CableRogers Cable is Canada's largest cable television service provider with approximately 2.3 million customers in southern Ontario (90% of customers), New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Its growing digital cable service provides access to technologies such as high definition television, video on demand, interactive television and enhanced television. Rogers also provides broadband Internet access (Rogers Hi-Speed Internet), co-marketed with Yahoo!. Rogers has been subject to considerable scrutiny and backlash over its duopolistic business practices and Internet Protocol packet shaping for peer-to-peer content. Rogers Retail is the corporate retailer for Rogers Communications Inc. and operates retail locations under the Rogers Plus and Fido brand names. Customers of Rogers Cable also get access to Rogers TV and TV Rogers, a volunteer based local television channel. This unit was created in 1967.
As well, through Rogers Cable Inc., Rogers owns a majority interest (41.4%) in CPAC.
Rogers Telecom (formerly Call-Net Enterprises which did business under the Sprint Canada brand) is a major competitive telephone carrier throughout Canada. Since acquiring Call-Net, Rogers has also entered into the lucrative residential phone business under the Rogers Home Phone brand, to challenge Bell Canada, using both traditional and VoIP technologies. As of 2007, Rogers Telecom has been rolled into the Rogers Cable business unit.
Rogers WirelessRogers Communications is Canada's largest wireless communications services provider, under the Rogers Communications, Fido, Chatr Wireless and Cityfone brand names, with 8.6 million voice and data subscribers. The unit was previously known as Cantel, Cantel AT&T, and Rogers AT&T Wireless (U.S. firm AT&T Wireless was a shareholder for a time).
Rogers Home MonitoringIn 2011, Rogers launched a home monitoring service which utilizes both its wireless network and cable network. The service includes a touchpad home monitoring console to manage multiple utilities at home, including security sensors and cameras, thermostat, appliances and lighting. Management and access to these services is also available on smartphones through a home monitoring application.
Rogers MediaRogers Media owns Canada's largest publishing company, Rogers Publishing Limited, which has more than 70 consumer and business publications, 52 radio stations, television broadcasting with Omni Television, City, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet World, Sportsnet 360, OLN, Nextissue, G4 Canada, The Biography Channel Canada, FX, FXX and The Shopping Channel which is Canada's home shopping service.
PublishingRogers Publishing Limited publishes more than 70 consumer magazines and trade and professional publications, digital properties and directories in Canada, including Maclean's, Canada's weekly newsmagazine; its French-language equivalent, L'actualité; Sportsnet Magazine; Chatelaine; Flare; and a variety of other magazines and their companion web sites. The publishing arm was once part of the Maclean-Hunter Publishing empire.
Rogers also is a partner in OLN, Viewers Choice and is a two-thirds owner of G4 Canada with Comcast.
Some of the better known radio outlets are CHFI Toronto, CJCL Toronto (The FAN 590), CFTR Toronto (680 News), and various stations operating under the Jack FM brand. In summer 2006, Rogers acquired five stations from OK Radio in Alberta and, with regulatory approval, will be operating in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie. Existing clusters of stations are in Vancouver-Victoria-Whistler, Calgary-Lethbridge, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener and Halifax-Moncton-Saint John, NB.
In 2007, Rogers entered a tentative deal to purchase the A-Channel stations, CKX-TV, Access, Canadian Learning Television and SexTV: The Channel from CHUM Limited, as part of the latter company's takeover by CTVglobemedia. This transaction was contingent on Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval of CTVglobemedia's takeover of CHUM. However, on June 8, 2007, the CRTC approved the CTV transaction conditional on CTV divesting itself of Citytv rather than A-Channel, effectively voiding the deal. On June 12, it was announced that Rogers had made a new offer of $375 million for the Citytv stations. The transaction was approved on September 28, 2007, the same date when "Rogers Park" in Brampton, Ontario was officially opened.
On June 28, 2007, Rogers further offered to sell the two religious-licensed OMNI stations in Winnipeg and Vancouver as part of the Citytv deal, although the company stated that it intended to retain the multilingual-licensed OMNI stations. On July 7, Rogers also announced a takeover offer for Vancouver's multicultural station CHNM. In September 2007, Rogers has also applied to the CRTC to acquire 20 per cent of CablePulse 24, a local news channel in Toronto which was previously paired with Citytv (both stations were previously owned by CHUM Limited) but was retained by CTVglobemedia in the June 8 licence approval. Neither CTVglobemedia nor Rogers has, to date, announced whether this application will change future plans for the station.
In 2012, Rogers purchased CJNT-DT Montreal and on February 3, 2013, it was rebranded as City Montreal.
SportsIn addition to its ownership of Sportsnet, acquired from CTV, Sportsnet One and Sportsnet World, Rogers Media operates the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team through Rogers Blue Jays Baseball Partnership and the Rogers Centre (previously known as SkyDome). Through Sportsnet, Rogers Media also holds a 50% ownership in Dome Productions, a mobile production and distribution joint venture that is a leader in high-definition television production and broadcasting in Canada. Rogers also owns the naming rights to Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks., as well as Rogers Place, the future home of the Edmonton Oilers, slated to open in 2016.
On December 9, 2011, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announced the sale of its majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, in a deal expected to be valued at around $1.32 billion. Additionally, Larry Tanenbaum will increase his stake in the company to 25%.
On August 25, 2012, Rogers Media agreed to acquire Score Media which includes The Score Television Network for $167 million, including a 10 per cent stake of its digital business. The deal was completed on Oct. 19, 2012.
Main article: NHL on SportsnetOn November 26, 2013, Rogers Communications Inc, unveiled the details of a 12-year, C$5.2 billion partnership with the National Hockey League which began in the 2014–15 season. This will give Rogers the controlling stake for national broadcast and digital rights of the NHL and will ultimately give them the ability to stream all NHL feeds on all of their current platforms replacing both Bell Media and CBC Sports as the national broadcast and cable television rightsholders respectively. The effects of this deal will shift the balance of power in the country’s broadcast industry as it will drive demand for Rogers Cable TV subscriptions. This transaction marks the first time a first-class North American-wide sports league has allowed all its national right to one company on a long-term basis. As part of the deal, Rogers also took over Canadian distribution of the NHL Centre Ice and GameCentre Live services. National English-language coverage of the NHL is carried primarily by Rogers' Sportsnet group of specialty channels; Sportsnet holds an exclusive window for games played on Wednesday nights. Hockey Night in Canada was maintained and expanded under the deal, airing up to seven games nationally on Saturday nights throughout the regular season across CBC Television, the Sportsnet networks, Rogers-owned television network City, and FX Canada. While CBC maintains Rogers-produced NHL coverage during the regular season and playoffs through a time-brokerage agreement with the company, Rogers assumes editorial control and the ownership of any advertising revenue from the telecasts. City also airs a Sunday night game of the week, Rogers Hometown Hockey, which features a pre-game show originating from various Canadian communities. Sportsnet's networks also air occasional games involving all-U.S. matchups.
Under a sub-licensing agreement with Rogers, Quebecor Media holds national French-language rights to the NHL, with all coverage airing on its specialty channel TVA Sports. TVA Sports' flagship broadcasts on Saturday nights focus primarily on the Montreal Canadiens.
Rogers sought to increase the prominence of NHL content on digital platforms by re-launching the NHL's digital out-of-market sports package GameCentre Live as Rogers NHL GameCentre Live, adding the ability to stream all of Rogers' national NHL telecasts, along with in-market streaming of regional games for teams whose regional rights are held by Sportsnet. GamePlus—an additional mode featuring alternate camera angles intended for a second screen experience, such as angles focusing on certain players, net and referee cameras, and a Skycam in selected venues, was also added exclusively for GameCentre Live subscribers who are subscribed to Rogers' cable, internet, or wireless services.
In the lead-up to the 2014-15 season, Rogers began to promote its networks as the new home of the NHL through a multi-platform advertising campaign; the campaign featured advertising and cross-promotions across Rogers' properties, such as The Shopping Channel, which began to feature presentations of NHL merchandise, and its parenting magazine Today's Parent, which began to feature hockey-themed stories in its issues. On May 28, 2014, Rogers announced a six-year sponsorship deal with Scotiabank, which saw the bank become the title sponsor for Wednesday Night Hockey and Hockey Day in Canada, and become a sponsor for other segments and initiatives throughout Rogers' NHL coverage.
On October 6, 2014, Rogers and NHL began their media sales venture in which Rogers will lead all Canadian national NHL media sales across its owned and operated broadcast and digital platforms as well as ad sales for League-owned digital assets in Canada.
Digital products and services
OutRank by RogersIn 2011, a partnership was formed between Rogers Communications and Yodle, Inc to provide a suite of digital marketing services to Canadian small, medium, and enterprise size business. These solutions have been deployed under the name OutRank by Rogers and operate as a business unit within the company. Services include search engine optimization, mobile marketing, social media marketing, pay per click, and analytics. The opening was announced in January 2012 with the launch of their first client, Ontario-based CLS Roofing. OutRank by Rogers is a Google Premier SMB Partner and promotes responsive web design. The company is a donor to the Ronald Mcdonald House of Toronto.
Vicinity by RogersIn May, 2013 Rogers Communications launched "Vicinity", a loyalty and marketing automation platform for small and medium businesses in Canada. The platform provides local retail businesses across Canada with the opportunity to provide customized loyalty programs. Vicinity was launched in partnership with FiveStars Loyalty, a US-based rewards program from Silicon Valley.
Rogers Smart Home MonitoringIn August, 2011 Rogers Communications launched "Rogers Smart Home Monitoring" in Ontario, a security system that lets homeowners control appliances and thermostats remotely using a smartphone. In February 2015, the Smart Home Monitoring System was expanded it service to Vancouver.
Rogers BankIn August, 2013 Rogers Communications launched Rogers Bank, a Schedule I bank, which offers Rogers First Rewards MasterCard credit card.
Friday, August 7, 2015
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Giant Panda)
"Panda" redirects here. For other uses, see Panda (disambiguation).
"Panda Bear" redirects here. For the musician, see Panda Bear (musician). For the album, see Panda Bear (album).
"The panda" redirects here. For the baseball player nicknamed "The Panda", see Pablo Sandoval.
|Giant panda range|
The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighbouring provinces, namely Shaanxi and Gansu. As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.
The giant panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. A 2007 report shows 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas live in captivity outside China, living in 18 zoos in 13 different countries. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of giant pandas in the wild is on the rise. On March 2015, Mongabay stated the wild giant panda population increased by 268, or 16.8%, totaling to 1,864 individuals. However, the IUCN does not believe there is enough certainty yet to reclassify the species from Endangered to Vulnerable.
While the dragon has often served as China's national emblem, internationally the giant panda appears at least as commonly. As such, it is becoming widely used within China in international contexts, for example as one of the five Fuwa mascots of the Beijing Olympics.
The giant panda has a body shape typical of bears. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, speculation suggests that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage in their shade-dappled snowy and rocky habitat. The giant panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. The panda's skull shape is typical of durophagous carnivorans. It has evolved from previous ancestors to exhibit larger molars with increased complexity and expanded temporal fossa. A 110.45 kg (243.5 lb) giant panda has a 3D canine teeth bite force of 2603.47 newtons and bite force quotient of 292. Another study had a 117.5 kg (259 lb) giant panda bit 1298.9 newtons (BFQ 151.4) at canine teeth and 1815.9 newtons (BFQ 141.8) at carnassial teeth.
The giant panda's paw has a "thumb" and five fingers; the "thumb" – actually a modified sesamoid bone – helps it to hold bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould discusses this feature in his book of essays on evolution and biology, The Panda's Thumb.
The giant panda's tail, measuring 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in), is the second-longest in the bear family. (The longest belongs to the sloth bear.)
The giant panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. The oldest captive, a female named Ming Ming, had a recorded age of 34.
BehaviorThe giant panda is a terrestrial animal and primarily spends its life roaming and feeding in the bamboo forests of the Qinling Mountains and in the hilly Sichuan Province. Giant pandas are generally solitary, and each adult has a defined territory, and a female is not tolerant of other females in her range. Pandas communicate through vocalization and scent marking such as clawing trees or spraying urine. They are able to climb and take shelter in hollow trees or rock crevices, but do not establish permanent dens. For this reason, pandas do not hibernate, which is similar to other subtropical mammals, and will instead move to elevations with warmer temperatures. Pandas rely primarily on spatial memory rather than visual memory.
Social encounters occur primarily during the brief breeding season in which pandas in proximity to one another will gather. After mating, the male leaves the female alone to raise the cub.
Though the panda is often assumed to be docile, it has been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation rather than aggression.
Two of the panda's most distinctive features, its large size and round face, are adaptations to its bamboo diet. Anthropologist Russell Ciochon observed: "[much] like the vegetarian gorilla, the low body surface area to body volume [of the giant panda] is indicative of a lower metabolic rate. This lower metabolic rate and a more sedentary lifestyle allows the giant panda to subsist on nutrient poor resources such as bamboo." Similarly, the giant panda's round face is the result of powerful jaw muscles, which attach from the top of the head to the jaw. Large molars crush and grind fibrous plant material.
The morphological characteristics of extinct relatives of the giant panda suggest that while the ancient giant panda was omnivorous 7 million years ago (mya), it only became herbivorous some 2-2.4 mya with the emergence of A. microta. Genome sequencing of the giant panda suggests that the dietary switch could have initiated from the loss of the sole T1R1/T1R3 umami taste receptor, resulting from two frameshift mutations within the T1R1 exons. Umami taste corresponds to high levels of glutamate as found in meat, and may have thus altered the food choice of the giant panda. Although the pseudegenization of the umami taste receptor in Ailuropoda coincides with the dietary switch to herbivory, it is likely a result of, and not the reason for, the dietary change. The mutation time for the T1R1 gene in the giant panda is estimated to 4.2 mya while fossil evidence indicates bamboo consumption in the giant panda species at least 7 mya, signifying that although complete herbivory occurred around 2 mya, the dietary switch was initiated prior to T1R1 loss-of-function.
Pandas eat any of 25 bamboo species in the wild, such as Fargesia dracocephala and Fargesia rufa. Only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas now inhabit. Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels; stems have less.
Because of the synchronous flowering, death, and regeneration of all bamboo within a species, the giant panda must have at least two different species available in its range to avoid starvation. While primarily herbivorous, the giant panda still retains decidedly ursine teeth, and will eat meat, fish, and eggs when available. In captivity, zoos typically maintain the giant panda's bamboo diet, though some will provide specially formulated biscuits or other dietary supplements.
Pandas will travel between different habitats if they need to, so they can get the nutrients that they need and to balance their diet for reproduction. For six years, scientists studied six pandas tagged with GPS collars at the Foping Reserve in the Qinling Mountains. They took note of their foraging and mating habits, and analysed samples of their food and feces. The pandas would move from the valleys in to the Qinling Mountains and would only return to the valleys in Autumn. During the summer months bamboo shoots rich in protein are only available at higher altitudes which causes low calcium rates in the pandas and during breeding season the pandas would trek back down to eat bamboo leaves rich in calcium. 
GenomicsThe giant panda genome was sequenced in 2009 using Illumina dye sequencing. Its genome contains 20 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes.
ClassificationFor many decades, the precise taxonomic classification of the giant panda was under debate because it shares characteristics with both bears and raccoons. However, molecular studies suggest the giant panda is a true bear and part of the family Ursidae, though it differentiated early in history from the main ursine stock. The giant panda's closest extant relative is the spectacled bear of South America. The giant panda has been referred to as a living fossil.
Despite the shared name, habitat type, and diet, as well as a unique enlarged bone called the pseudo thumb (which helps them grip the bamboo shoots they eat) the giant panda and red panda are only distantly related. Molecular studies have placed the red panda in its own family Ailuridae, and not under Ursidae.
SubspeciesTwo subspecies of giant panda have been recognized on the basis of distinct cranial measurements, color patterns, and population genetics (Wan et al., 2005).
- The nominate subspecies Ailuropoda melanoleuca consists of most extant populations of panda. These animals are principally found in Sichuan and display the typical stark black and white contrasting colors.
- The Qinling panda, A. m. qinlingensis is restricted to the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi at elevations of 1300–3000 m. The typical black and white pattern of Sichuan giant pandas is replaced with a dark brown versus light brown pattern. The skull of A. m. qinlingensis is smaller than its relatives, and it has larger molars.