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Panda Updates – Wednesday, February 24

If you follow our panda updates regularly, you may have some familiarity with our “bamboo chronicles.” Giant pandas can be very picky about what bamboo they choose to eat. This is with good reason, as bamboo itself can take a lot of energy to eat and digest. There are around 200 species of bamboo that grow here in Georgia, but the Zoo’s bears regularly only eat about six or seven of those species. Luckily, there are many people who offer to donate the bamboo on their land.  The Zoo has an awesome team of bamboo specialists that travel around the Atlanta area and harvest bamboo for the pandas. They help ensure that we maintain a good supply of what the pandas will eat. As bamboo is harvested, sometimes we must give bamboo stands ample time to grow back before we can cut from the same site again. Because of this, we rotate what species are given based on several factors that include availability and time of year.

This week, we were able to get a species of bamboo known to us as “Bissetii” (Phyllostachys bissetii). This species has not been offered for a few years, so we weren’t sure how well everyone would eat it. For now, all the bears seem to love it! When we clean up after the pandas, we remove any bamboo they rejected and rate how well they ate to help us determine what type of bamboo to offer them again. Some of the times we’ve cleaned lately, it looks like the bamboo went through a shredder. When there are very few whole pieces left to take out, it’s safe to say they’re eating it well! It’s always a good feeling for us when we have bamboo that gets a big “pseudothumbs up” from the pandas.

(photo by Megan H.)

Megan H.
Keeper I, Mammals

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