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What Captive Pandas Eat

For pandas in captivity, it is necessary to ensure their adequate nutrition and their skills in obtaining and eating bamboo. Through years of research, Chinese experts have mastered some scientific methods in this regard.

When the two-year-old Huanhuan was moved from a zoo to the research center a year ago, it weighed more than 90 kg because of overnutrition. Not only was it not willing to move, but it was also in a poor physical condition and often fell sick. 

Experts then developed a specific diet for Huanhuan – it was going to take small, but more frequent meals, and they tried to reduce the amount of concentrates given, they also frequently put a small amount of bamboo, prompting Huanhuan to increase its amount of activity for the need of food.

After a few months, its weight was dropped to the normal 70kg, and it was in a much better shape. Previously, unscientific breeding methods often caused pandas to be either malnourished or overweight, which in turn affected their normal growth and development. 

The nutritionists of the China Conservation Giant Panda Research Center used to think that once fed normally, pandas are able to grow normally like the poultry. And they were mainly fed on concentrates. Later, only bamboo was provided. And it was later discovered that to feed them solely on bamboo is not the best solution either, since it cannot meet their nutritional needs.  

Experts have discovered that pandas’ digestive tract has been adapted to the digestion of bamboo, a high-fiber plant. Therefore, researchers must distribute fresh bamboo to meet the digestive needs of the pandas of different ages and physiques. 

In addition, due to the limited variety of bamboos available for giant pandas under captivity, and in order to ensure a balanced diet, it is also necessary to supplement their diet with certain concentrates. Previously, liquid foods reduced the frequency of pandas’ chewing and teeth exercise, and researchers have now developed a new type of feed with high hardness, high fiber content.

Such kind of feed is easy to be grasped by giant pandas. At the same time, the research center has established a detailed file of nutritional status for each giant panda. It also assigns different recipes according to their growth and development conditions, so that each giant panda can grow healthily with a balanced nutrition.  

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