Usually, only baby pandas like to hold the legs of human beings. They usually grow out of the habit.
The panda breeders told us that there are mainly four reasons why pandas like holding the legs of human beings.
The first reason: the pandas in captivity are relatively shy, and panda cubs usually lack a sense of security. When holding the legs of their breeders, they immediately feel much safer. This is similar to a human being holding a stuffed animal to sleep, the purpose is for a sense of security.
The second reason: pandas are a type of bears. Climbing trees is a natural-born skill for them. Most pandas like playing and running around, they also love climbing trees which are not too thick. Naturally, holding a leg is like climbing a tree for pandas.
The third reason: pandas have a strong sense of territory. Generally, only breeders can get close to them, and therefore, pandas treat their breeders as their family members. Holding their legs is a way of showing affection, it’s also a sign of trust. Imagine your dog or cat trying to get close to you, it’s a similar meaning.
The fourth reason is that panda cubs are in the stage of growing teeth. They want to hold a leg when they need to grind their teeth.