Sunday 24 September 2017

Zoo develops bamboo plan for pandas

Female giant Panda Tian Tian is due to be moved from China along with fellow giant panda Yang Guang to Edinburgh Zoo
Female giant Panda Tian Tian is due to be moved from China along with fellow giant panda Yang Guang to Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is to grow its own bamboo to feed its two new giant pandas.

The zoo is to grow around 15% of the bamboo needed for breeding pair Tian Tian and Yang Guang when they arrive from Bifengxia panda base in Ya'an in China.

The rest of the plant is to be imported from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Between them, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, born in 2003, are expected to chomp their way through nearly 18,000 kg of bamboo every year, or around 20 three-metre stems each day. In total, it will cost about £70,000 per year to provide enough bamboo to feed both giant pandas.

They will be fed five different species of the plant each day, including both the leaves and stem, and their menu will change depending on the time of year, reflecting natural behaviour in the wild.

Simon Jones, the zoo's gardens manager, said: "Our starting point was to ensure a long-term supply of fresh bamboo that was both sustainable and cost-effective.

"Because bamboo forms such a fundamental part of the giant pandas' diet, we also had to guarantee consistency of supply, and to ensure that the bamboo was of the highest possible quality while offering the variety of species required for their highly-specialised needs.

"Since it was announced earlier this year that the pandas were coming to Scotland, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of interest and offers we have received from members of the public wanting to grow and supply bamboo for us.

"Unfortunately, we can't accept all the offers but plan to develop education-based projects with all those who have shown interest - including many primary schools in the area - to involve them in the ongoing challenge of feeding our newest arrivals."

Breeding pair Tian Tian - meaning "sweetie" - and Yang Guang - meaning "sunlight" - are set to arrive in Edinburgh Zoo from the Ya'an reserve in Chengdu, China, and will be the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.

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