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panda provisions:

from bamboo groves to panda mouths


In the wild, a giant panda's diet is 99 percent bamboo, with other plants and small animals completing the other 1 percent. In addition to bamboo, the zoo's giant pandas, which are fed three to five times per day, eat carrots, apples, sweet potatoes and special high-fiber biscuits.

Because bamboo is not nutrient rich, and because pandas do not digest bamboo efficiently (their bodies have a carnivore's digestive system), the pandas must consume vast quantities to get the nutrients they need. 

Tian Tian, the male, is the larger of the two and eats about 60 pounds of bamboo a day. Mei Xiang, the female, eats about 40 pounds. Keepers track how much the pandas are consuming and weigh them regularly. Tian Tian weighs about 270 pounds, and Mei Xiang weighs about 160 pounds, keepers say. 


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Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism

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