reclining giant panda at panda breeding centre, chendu, china 6 by Russell Scott Via Flickr: captive giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), eating bamboo at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or Chengdu Panda Base, located in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
Despite its taxonomic classification as a carnivoran, the giant panda’s diet is primarily herbivorous, consisting almost exclusively of bamboo. However, the giant panda still has the digestive system of a carnivore, as well as carnivore-specific genes, and thus derives little energy and little protein from consumption of bamboo. Its ability to digest cellulose is ascribed to the microbes in its gut. Pandas are born with sterile intestines, and require bacteria obtained from their mother’s feces to digest vegetation.