Panda Updates – Wednesday, April 7
We are approaching the most wonderful time of the year here in PandaLand… bamboo shoot season! Every spring, bamboo stands produce what are called shoots. These are the fresh, new sprouts of the plant that emerge from the ground before they harden into the big, tough culms we typically think of when we think of bamboo. When they are beginning to grow, they are very soft and densely packed with nutrients. During shoot season, pandas in the wild will almost exclusively eat shoots. Since the shoots are softer than mature bamboo culms, they require less energy to eat, and since they do contain more nutrients, they are a valuable resource to foraging pandas. For these reasons, our pandas also love them when they are available. We are very fortunate to have many amazing bamboo donors around Atlanta who ensure we always have an ample supply of bamboo to feed the bears. This means we are able to mimic what a giant panda’s natural diet trends would be in the wild by feeding exclusively shoots while they are in season. There are not many shoots out there yet, so we are not yet to the point of actively harvesting them for the pandas. However, while walking around the building over the weekend, we found some small shoots growing near the panda habitats. We took advantage of this and cut a couple to give to each of the pandas (including Jackie!) as a tasty treat. Each of the pandas made sure not to leave a single morsel of their shoots!
Keeper I, Mammals
(photo by Megan H.)