Panda Updates – Friday, July 19
All animals’ physical and behavioral traits adjust to make them best suited to their native environments. Animals who live in cold areas have thick fur to keep them warm, and semi-aquatic animals have traits that make them agile and quick swimmers. So, how could a panda’s black-and-white fur pattern possibly help them blend into green bamboo forests? For starters, you have to think about how bamboo grows. It shoots up extremely quickly in dense patches, with leaves near the top of the culm creating a shadowed canopy below. When you walk deep into a bamboo forest, it’s surprisingly dark with patches of light, and the black-and-white coloration of giant pandas helps them blend in extremely well while they are kicked back eating bamboo. We see it firsthand in our behind-the-scenes habitat that the bears have access to over the winter and spring months. We let the bamboo grow freely in this habitat, and the pandas are able to enter and harvest their own meals. Often times they are extremely difficult to see, and the best way to find them is to look for shaking bamboo that indicates where they might be hanging out.
Keeper II, Mammals