Bamboo to the Zoo
An overabundance of bamboo at BBG is making a family of pandas pretty happy. Trimmings from several bamboo cultivars in the Monocot Border were delivered to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo this week, and the leaves were promptly devoured by the two red panda cubs and parents living there.
BBG has been providing bamboo to the zoo’s red pandas for several years. In June 2013, two cubs were born to the breeding pair living there, increasing the need for fresh food. LiuXing and MingYue were about four months old when they first started to eat bamboo leaves.
“This was the first solid food they ate. We offered them some prepared biscuits, and they just kind of looked at us like, ‘What are these things?’ The bamboo they went for right away, though,” says Gwen Cruz, Discovery Trail keeper.
In the wild, bamboo leaves make up the majority of the red panda’s diet. In the zoo, they are fed specially formulated biscuits along with some fruit, but any amount of bamboo is a welcome addition. The zoo used to supplement the red pandas' diets with bamboo grown on its grounds, but when those plants were pulled up several years ago, their keepers approached BBG about getting the Garden's trimmings. Horticulturists here were more than happy to oblige.
“It’s so prolific, we are constantly thinning it out anyway,” says Michael Mauro, curator of the Plant Family Collection. The good news is, there will always be plenty to spare for the zoo.