giant panda

BIRTHDAY PLANS FOR BASI

Fuzhou Panda World, Fujian province (福州熊猫世界) is in celebratory mode to mark the 35th birthday of its treasured resident Basi 巴斯, the oldest giant panda in China.

Far surpassing the normal life expectancy of 12 years, Basi’s age is equivalent to more than 100 human years, the ratio of panda years to humans’ being roughly 1:4. Born in Baoxing County 宝兴, Sichuan province, she survived in the wild until the age of 4, when the bamboo where she lived began to die rapidly, and she had a near-death experience chasing hyena. Before she drowned…

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Gao Gao - 25-26 year old Giant Panda by Rita Petita
Via Flickr:
Gao Gao was found villagers in China at the age of 6 months. He was missing ½ of his left ear and his mother. He has been living at the San Diego Zoo since 2003 and now at the age of 25-26, he is a senior citizen. Because of his age his teeth can not handle the larger pieces of bamboo. He is given thinner slices of bamboo and supplement his diet with panda bread, apples and biscuits. The bread made daily at the Zoo. He was kind enough to allow me to photograh his "Gao Gao Platter" before he enjoyed it.

flickr

Bao Bao at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on May 23, 2015.

© Dan Dan The Binary Man.

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Giant Panda + Iron Man + Tai Chi = Iron Panda, the superhero China’s endangered panda population deserves and needs. He’s also the work of Beijing-based artist Bi Heng. Iron Panda measures 9 meters (29.5 feet) high and 7 meters (~23 feet) wide and he’s currently on display in Shenyang, the largest city in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.

Heng’s Iron Panda is a combination of the Giant panda’s symbolism as a Chinese national treasure and a victim of humanity’s impact upon the natural world, Iron Man, a superhero representing extraordinary technological advancements, and the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi. He view these three combined elements as a statement of how the environment is suffering for the sake of advancing technology and a message that there should be a better relationship between industrial development and the natural world in order to preserve and protect nature rather than destroy it.

Click here for additional photos and information about Bi Heng and his awesome Iron Panda.

[via Demilked and Kotaku]

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Mei Xiang at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on May 17, 2015.

© Dan Dan The Binary Man.

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Just how well can pandas digest bamboo? 

That’s the question at the center of new research published this week in mBio, which examined the gut bacteria of pandas (by looking at their poop) and found the animals’ stomachs are more closely related to carnivores.

As Nature explains:

To study the panda’s gut microbiome, researchers in China sequenced ribosomal RNA in faeces collected from 45 pandas of different ages over the course of a year. The scientists compared the microbes found in the panda faeces to those in the faeces of other mammals, such as bears, lions, horses and kangaroos.

The team found little diversity in the microorganisms that live in panda guts, and none of the cellulose-degrading bacteria typically seen in other plant-eaters. Instead, the pandas’ guts were dominated by Escherichia, Shigella and Streptococcus bacteria, which are normally found in carnivores.

About 2 million years ago, pandas switched to a bamboo-dominated diet, and today, the bears spend about 14 hours a day eating bamboo plants. They consume upwards of 27 pounds (about 12 kilograms) of bamboo daily, but only digest about 17 percent of what they eat.

So the question is still an open one: Why, if pandas have been eating bamboo for so many years, haven’t their microbiomes caught up?

Speaking to Nature, at least one researcher cautioned it’s premature to draw a link between the type of bacteria found in a panda’s stomach and the species’ overall decline. 

For this study, researchers only looked at microbial type, not function, and as Nature also points out, other research suggests some types of panda gut bacteria can break down cellulose into sugars that are easier to process.

Read the full study: The Bamboo-Eating Giant Panda Harbors a Carnivore-Like Gut Microbiota, with Excessive Seasonal Variations

(Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Creative Commons, San Diego Shooter)