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panda provisions:

from bamboo groves to panda mouths


Nancy Tufts, 90, has been the main supplier of bamboo for the giant pandas at the Smithsonian's National Zoo since 1972, when she responded to an ad in the Evening Star. The zoo had placed the ad seeking bamboo donors for its latest arrivals, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, gifts of the People's Republic of China following President Nixon's historic visit.  

For nearly three decades, Tufts supplied bamboo for the pair until Hsing-Hsing died in 1999 at the age of 28.  Ling-Ling had died seven years earlier, at 23. But in December 2000 Tufts again began supplying bamboo after the Chinese government loaned the National Zoo two new pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, from its refuge in the Sichuan province.

Maryland Newsline traveled to Tufts' Fort Washington farm and to the National Zoo in Washington to detail how the bamboo gets from Tufts' groves to the pandas' mouths.

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Photos, text and panda illustration by Sonia Kumar
Published May 1, 2001

Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism

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