Being a vegetarian is not easy to maintain a balanced diet: in the face of this problem, many people will be more willing to go back to embrace the hamburgers and chicken wings, so human being vegetarian does not eat a food, they will expand their recipes – Panda too.
Previously, the panda is only rely on how to determine the consumption of a high fiber, bamboo plants to meet the nutritional needs of their scientists have been unable to answer, until recently the study of this problem: the panda will eat two bamboo, and other types of plants, to meet their daily needs.
The giant panda in late period before to plant food habits, their bodies remain carnivorous ancestors characteristics — the smaller the stomach and shorter digestive tract, but they are still eager to get protein and nutrients from the carnivorous.
In a 6 year survey conducted in China’s Giant Panda Sanctuary, researchers installed GPS collar on three male and three female pandas to observe their natural food habits.
The team then collected samples of all kinds of food resources of the animal to measure the nutritional components of these plants, especially the contents of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium contained in them, which are the three basic index elements in the mammalian recipes.
After a year of research, the researchers found that the pandas have arranged a very sophisticated recipe. In spring, the pandas no longer eat bamboo leaves and eat its bamboo shoots. The bamboo shoots are rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. When the bamboo shoots aging, loss of nutrition, the pandas would move to another kind of high altitude edible bamboo, bamboo shoots, it is also rich in the two kinds of nutrients. In mid July, they changed again this time to change their diet, eating bamboo leaves, which is rich in calcium. In mid August, the female returned to the low altitude areas to give birth to the bamboo leaves.
This model year after year, pandas can maintain adequate nutritional levels, but the hardships and deaths are still associated with the endangered species. Because of the low nutrient content of bamboo leaves in the winter of three or four, the mortality rate of pandas rose sharply during this period.
The research team analyzed the effects of this diet selection on panda breeding. The pandas mate in the spring, but the embryos are free and undeveloped – this process is called the delayed implantation. According to the researchers, the embryo and not adhere to the mother’s womb, do not continue to grow until the mother to eat bamboo leaves, and this stage is the pinnacle of diet, calcium intake.
Therefore, the researchers speculate that the delayed development of the embryo is to wait for the mother to eat enough calcium for bone development and lactation. This may also explain why the panda’s pregnancy is very short (only 2-3 months), and the newborn baby is so small. The earlier they are born, the earlier they weaned, which means that the baby can start eating themselves earlier, which relieves the pressure on their mothers. The mother of pandas can not provide enough nutrition for two individuals in the long run.
Understanding the eating habits of pandas in the wild is an important part of the conservation work of the species. By knowing what food they eat, scientists can make a targeted policy of conservation, including the protection of their food resources in the near and long term. Although a vegetarian is very difficult, the giant panda has proved that innovation can help them go a long way.