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panda provisions:

from bamboo groves to panda mouths

 

Bamboo, which is in the grass family, grows to heights that vary from a few inches to more than 100 feet. Bamboo is differentiated from other grasses by its woody "culms," or stalks. Although it usually grows in tropical or subtropical climates, some species have adapted to cooler areas with higher rainfall. Generally, bamboo is about half water, and new shoots have an even higher water content, making bamboo an excellent water source for pandas. More than 2,000 different species have been identified, according to the American Bamboo Society, and more than 200 of these species are under cultivation throughout the United States.

Fortunately for the pandas at the National Zoo, one of the species of bamboo that they eat, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, is the species growing on Tufts' property. Sometimes called Yellow Groove or Golden Groove bamboo for the yellow grooves that alternate on its stalks, this species grows to heights of 10 feet to 25 feet.  Originally from China, it can withstand temperatures as cold as 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.  

 


 

Giant pandas are in danger of extinction, in large part because human activity threatens their habitat and food supply. They depend on bamboo for food and are at risk when habitats suitable for bamboo are destroyed. What some don't realize is that millions of people in Asia also depend on bamboo; they eat its shoots and seeds and feed stems and leaves to their livestock. They also craft all sorts of instruments out of bamboo, including furniture, musical instruments and toys. Fortunately, the bamboo that grows on Tufts' farm grows extraordinarily quickly. The shoots pictured here are already about 6 or 7 inches tall, and they are only a few days old.




 

Tufts hopes that her property will remain undeveloped, but isn't sure what will happen after she passes away and the farm is transferred to another member of her family. She is working with the National Wildlife Federation to preserve the land.

 

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Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism


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