Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) date back two to three million years. Ancient Chinese emperors kept pandas because they were believed to ward off evil spirits as well as natural disasters. There is an ancient Chinese story about how giant pandas got their unique markings. A young girl who was a friend of these bears died and the pandas were struck with sorrow. They wept at her funeral and rubbed their eyes with their arms. The dark color from their armbands was wiped onto their eyes. The bears then hugged themselves and marked their ears, shoulders, hind legs and rumps, resulting in the pattern seen today.