Panda Updates- Monday, November 27
Thanksgiving brings reflection on the things that we are grateful for in our lives. We on the Panda Care Team communicate closely with a team in the Zoo who are almost exclusively behind-the-scenes, but who may fill one of the hardest but lesser-known roles to the public. They are our Bamboo Team of Bamboo Technicians in our Animal Nutrition Department. We are very fortunate to be able to harvest all of the pandas’ bamboo fresh here in the metro Atlanta area. It is the job of the Bamboo Team to evaluate sites and harvest bamboo to deliver to the pandas. I am grateful for them always, but especially so as we go into winter.
While giant pandas primarily eat plants with their bamboo diet, their bodies are still built like other carnivores, with features like a simpler gut tract and carnivorous dentition. Because of this, they have to eat a lot of bamboo (to put it mildly) to get the nutrients necessary to sustain themselves. This is true year-round. However, going into winter, they start eating even more bamboo than they do during the rest of the year. With four adult giant pandas in our care, there are times that we offer more than 350 pounds of bamboo – per day! All that bamboo is cut into manageable lengths, bundled, weighed, and brought in from various off-site sources. The Bamboo Team works very hard behind the scenes to ensure that we have a constant supply of fresh bamboo for our bears. Whether it is raining, snowing, icy, a holiday, or a weekend, the amount of bamboo needed for the pandas does not decrease. As I mentioned, they may not see the public much, but I feel like this team deserves a shout-out for all the hard work they do for us. Thanks, Bamboo Team!
Keeper II, Mammals