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Panda Updates – Monday, January 14

Giant pandas have some of the strongest jaws of all terrestrial carnivores. Their ability to crush through tough bamboo comes from those strong jaw muscles, as well as the location at which the jaw muscles attach. A pandas’ jaw muscles are attached at their sagittal crest. For those of you with dogs at home, this is the long, thin bone or bump at the top of their head. For comparison, human jaw muscles are attached near the temples of our heads, which is just one of the reasons our bite force isn’t as nearly as strong. No matter how cute and harmless they might look, giant pandas pack a big bite, even at a young age. This is why we don’t share spaces with them and treat them with respect for what they are: bears! When you get the chance to watch the giant pandas eat, you can see their ears wiggling and eyes moving while they chew because of the location of those jaw muscles. It’s the most evident when Yang Yang eats because he’s got those big ol’ ears moving around.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals

(Photo by Danica W.)

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