: a large black-and-white mammal (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) of chiefly central China that feeds primarily on bamboo shoots and is now usually classified with the bears (family Ursidae) —called also giant panda
: a large black-and-white animal of central and western China that feeds mostly on the leaves and stems of the bamboo and is related to the bear
Word History of PANDA
A picture of a panda—the red panda rather than the panda of China—as well as the word panda itself first appeared in Europe in 1825. The French naturalist who published the picture, Frédéric Cuvier, did not tell us where he found the word, but it is assumed to be from a language of Nepal. When the panda of China first became known, it was thought to be a kind of bear. In 1901 scientists decided it was most closely related to the red panda and hence named it “giant panda.” Though the kinship between the two animals is now known to be much more distant, the name panda is still firmly attached to both animals.