WWF 35th Anniverary Sheet

Giant Panda Stamps

The native Chinese name for the Giant Panda, Da xiong mao, means "great bear cat." Chinese books written over two thousand years ago endow the giant panda with mystical powers capable of warding off natural disasters and evil spirits. The ancient Chinese emperors kept giant pandas as pets.

The giant panda remained unknown to Westerners until 1869 when native hunters brought French missionary Armand David a dead specimen. He sent the pelt back to the Museum of Natural History in Paris. German zoologist Hugo Weigold was the first Westerner to observe a live giant panda in the wild. In 1929 Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt (sons of former U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt) became the first Westerners to hunt and kill a giant panda. It was not until 1937 that Ruth Harkness and Gerald Russell captured a live giant panda for the first time. It took sixty-seven years from the time of the giant panda's discovery by Westerners until its live capture. During this period twelve well staffed and equipped professional expeditions failed to collect a single live specimen of the giant panda.

The scientific name for the giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, means "black and white bear." Scientists debated for decades whether the giant panda was in fact a bear or was instead more closely related to the lesser panda and racoon. In the late 1980s DNA testing confirmed that the giant panda was a bear. Unlike other bears, the giant panda subsists almost entirely on a vegetarian diet of bamboo. An individual panda spends up to fourteen hours each day eating twelve to fourteen kilos of bamboo.

The giant panda is an endangered animal. Only about one thousand individuals remain alive in the wild. All of these inhabit a small region in the bamboo forests of southwestern China.

The giant panda has graced many postage stamps, in part because the panda appears in the official logo of the World Wildlife Fund (World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF). Only a fraction of the many giant panda stamps which have been issued appear here. Many countries have issued stamps under license to the WWF. Most such stamps include the WWF's panda logo. The souvenir sheet at the top of this page was printed for the WWF in Switzerland to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the WWF.

In the table below, a (*) following a country name indicates that stamp is probably a "Cinderella" issue which is not valid as genuine postage.

Selected Giant Panda Stamps
Issuing Country Year Issued Scott Catalog Number Illustration Remarks
Abkhazia (*)    
Abkhazia souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows a giant panda, giraffes, a wolf, and a koala bear.
Batum (*)    
Batum endangered animals souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet for animal preservation.
Batum (*)    
Batum endangered animals souvenir sheet
Minisheet of eight stamps displays the Giant Panda and other endangered species. Issued to commemorate the 90th anniverary of the Boy Scouts.
Bhutan   921
Bhutan giant panda stamp
Shows a single panda.
Bhutan 1997 1146
Bhutan giant panda souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows the giant panda and its favorite food, bamboo.
China 1992 Unissued.
China panda riding a bike sheet
This souvenir sheet, which was never officially issued, shows a giant panda riding a bike.
China 1996 2448a
China bamboo and giant panda sheet
Souvenir sheet with panda logo shows bamboo, the favorite food of the giant panda.
Cuba 1997 3809
Cuba Giant Panda Stamp
One of a set of five stamps depicting zoo animals.
Dagestan (*) 1999  
1999 Dagestan panda souvenir sheet
Miniature sheet of six with five of the stamps depicting pandas.
Guyana 1996 3053
1996 Guyana giant pandas souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows pandas nestled in a tree.
Guyana 1996 3054
1996 Guyana giant pandas souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows pandas feeding.
Hong Kong 1999  
1999 Hong Kong giant pandas souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows panda as well as the skyline of Hong Kong.
Hungary 1977 2509
1977 Hungary giant panda stamp
Shows a single seated panda.
Japan 1988 1804
Japan giant panda stamp
Commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Japan/China treaty.
Mongolia 1990 1887
Mongolia giant panda sheet
Shows a panda family.
New Caledonia   688
New Caledonia giant panda souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet shows the giant panda on a map of eastern China and a bird on a map of New Caledonia.
New Zealand 1994 1229
New Zealand giant panda stamp
This stamp also appears on a souvenir sheet along with five other stamps of wild animals.
North Korea 1983  
North Korea giant panda sheet
Shows a single panda.
North Korea 1991  
North Korea giant panda sheet
Shows a panda family eating bamboo.
North Korea 1991  
North Korea giant panda stamps
Set of six stamps depicting pandas eating, playing, and resting.
Russia (Soviet Union) 1964 2906
Russian panda stamp
Commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Moscow Zoo.
Russia 1993 6189
Russian panda stamp
Shows a seated panda.
Russian strip of five panda stamps
Strip of five stamps each of which depicts the giant panda.
Tanzania 1994 1293
Tanzania panda stamp
This stamp shows the Giant Panda but incorrectly gives the scientific name of the Lesser Panda. One of a set of seven stamps depicting endangered animals. The others are the koala bear, the eagle, the African elephant, the monk seal, the gray whale, other whales, and the tiger.
Tuva (*)    
Tuva giant panda minisheet
Miniature sheet of nine stamps each depicting the giant panda.
Tuva (*)    
Tuva giant panda souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet.
Tuva (*)    
Tuva giant panda souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet.
Tuva (*)    
Tuva giant panda souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheet.
Udmurtia (*)    
Udmurtia giant panda miniature sheet
Miniature sheet of eight.
United nations 1995 660a
United Nations Panda Stamp
The U.N. issued this panda stamp as one of four depicting animals in danger of extinction. The other three stamps show the giant armadillo, the bald eagle, and the banded iguana. You may also view the first day cover.
United States 1992 2706
United States Panda Stamp
One of a set of five animal stamps. The others depict the Giraffe, the Flamingo, the King Penguin, and the White Bengal Tiger.

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Last modified by pib on July 6, 2003.