Panda Updates – Friday, December 15
I know we have all been talking about the cubs eating bamboo quite a bit lately, but it’s really the only new thing that is happening right now. They are eating more and more bamboo each day. This past week, they have started eating the culm (or the stem) of the bamboo instead of only the leaves. All panda cubs start with the leaves when they begin eating bamboo. The leaves are easier to chew and tear from the stems. The culm is tough and difficult to break. Just a few weeks ago, Ya Lun and Xi Lun struggled to eat the culm. As you can see in the photo, they were chewing on it and making teeth marks, but not quite strong enough to tear through it and consume it. However, this week, we have discovered several piles of feces from the cubs that are made up entirely of culm. You may find feces gross, but we keepers use it to monitor how much and what parts of the bamboo the pandas are consuming. Since giant pandas only process about 30 percent of what they eat, their feces looks very much like chewed-up bamboo, so it is easy for us to determine if they are primarily eating leaves or the culm.
Senior Keeper, Carnivores