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Panda Updates – Monday, April 29

Like Shauna mentioned in the last update, bamboo shoot season is upon us! We all (humans and giant pandas alike) love shoot season because the pandas are able to eat their fill and get a lot of naps in. Unlike other animals that primarily eat leaves, giant pandas don’t have the capability to grind up plant matter without chomping their jaws up and down. A few of our Wild Encounter Guides here at Zoo Atlanta actually taught me a cool trick to feel the difference in our jaw musculature versus a giant panda’s, and you can try it right at home! Place your hand on top of your head and pretend you’re chewing something. You won’t feel much movement in your hand because our jaw muscles are attached near our temples. If you were a giant panda, you’d feel a lot of muscle movement on top of your head because their jaw muscles are attached at their sagittal crest. It’s that jaw musculature that gives them the power to crunch through bamboo, but it also causes them to be unable to quietly grind leaf matter like other leaf-eating animals. I don’t know about you all, but I think they’re still pretty cute despite being loud and “smacky” chewers!
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals

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