In Chengdu I visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Pandas a quite fascinating in that 99% of their diet is Bamboo. This is despite the fact they have the digestive system of a carnivore. This means they must eat up to 14 kg of Bamboo a day as they receive very little energy or protein from it. This also means they tend to have very little energy to do anything else other than eat and poop. In fact a Panda poops up to 40 times a day!
So essentially, when you see Pandas, they will either be eating, pooping or sleeping!
I visited the Pandas with Chengdu Jenny, a Panda Whisperer. Jenny understands Panda language and has provided us with the translations of what the Pandas were saying while we were filming. As you will see, Pandas are very forgetful.
Luckily the Panda is cute, because from an evolution point of view, it really is like a living fossil. Because they only eat Bamboo, their habitat is restricted to a few mountain ranges in central China. They are also restricted in their reproduction in that they don’t reach sexual maturity until they are four to eight years old and only have one cub at two year intervals.
In captivity they seem to lose interest in breeding and thus artificial insemination is used. To tempt breeding, scientists have also used such methods as showing Pandas ‘Panda Porn videos’, showing footage of other Pandas mating, and given the males Viagra!
I also filmed a Red Panda, which also eats a hell of a lot Bamboo, but is actually not a bear, but a member of the raccoon/weasal/skunk family. Their diet is made up of two-thirds bamboo. Like the Giant Panda, they cannot digest cellulose, so they must eat a heap of bamboo to survive. They supplement their diet with small mammals, birds, flowers, berries and eggs.
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