Garden News Blog

Panda Cubs Happy To Help Take Care of Excess Bamboo

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.

Sarah Schmidt edits BBG's Garden News Blog and the Guides for a Greener Planet handbook series.

    Discussion

  • Gabriela Salas April 13, 2014

    Love it!

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Image, top of page:
The red panda family at Prospect Park Zoo enjoys some bamboo courtesy of BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
BBG's Janis Napoli and Wildlife Prospect Park Zoo' Gwen Cruz and Carolina Duque take a cartload of bamboo to the pandas. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
Prospect Park Zoo senior keeper Gwen Cruz brings fresh bamboo from BBG to the red pandas. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
Prospect Park Zoo senior keeper Gwen Cruz brings fresh bamboo from BBG to the red pandas. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
In the wild, a red panda's diet consists mostly of bamboo. In the zoo, it is a welcome supplement. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
Prospect Park Zoo's Gwen Cruz, senior keeper, and Carolina Duque, wildlife intern, say the red pandas are happy to take some of BBG's bamboo if its hands. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.