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Panda Updates – Friday, March 24

We keepers are very excited to have Arrow bamboo (sp. Pseudosasa japonica) for the adult pandas this week! Arrow is the pandas’ favorite bamboo. We have a limited supply of Arrow sites, so we can only offer it for a couple of months or so during the year. Arrow is tall with a thin stem (or culm) with long, wide leaves. The pandas mainly eat the culm, but will occasionally eat the leaves. Since the pandas primarily eat the culm, the Arrow bamboo we offer must be 2 to 3 years old. At that age, the bamboo has optimal nutrients and the work the pandas have to do to eat the culm is worth the effort. When the pandas eat Arrow, they strip off the outside of the culm and eat the softer, more nutritious inside part. As the pandas strip off the outside of the culm, the strips (or shards) start piling up on their bellies until they are completely covered in the shards. Lun Lun frequently moves around as she is eating, so the shards don’t pile up very much; however, Yang Yang rarely gets up if his bamboo is within arm’s reach, so he often has a huge pile of shards on his belly at the end of a session of eating Arrow. When he stands up, he dumps the pile on the floor in one large heap. It’s amusing to watch them eat Arrow to see the shard pile grow on their bellies.
Heather R.
Senior Keeper, Carnivores

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