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March 11, 2010

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Pandas are eating hearty

LYING on the bamboo leaves with milk on their noses and carrots held in both hands, the 10 pandas for the 2010 World Expo at the Shanghai Zoo got up yesterday to rush for their new favorite - fresh bamboo shoot.

With the pandas needing more nutrition as they grow up, the zoo is introducing a newly balanced diet, with larger quantities of feed and new snacks.

"Bamboo shoot is their favorite food and they love it even more than the bamboo leaves," said Li Guo, the pandas' caretaker.

According to Li, the zoo first offered some bamboo shoots during the Spring Festival in February and the pandas got so excited that they fought each other for the morsels.

About one kilogram of bamboo shoot is given to each panda twice a day, but still seems not enough. Gluttonous ones hold the caretaker's leg tightly with both arms to ask for more.

"The bamboo shoot is not only delicious, but it's also good for their heath because it contains more nutrition, which is perfect for the baby pandas," Li added.

Li said the 10 pandas have grown 6 to 7 kilograms heavier on average after two months' stay at the zoo, so the zoo officials decided to provide them more food of various kinds.

Besides the bamboo shoot, the zoo raised the amount of feed by 100 grams and added 3 to 5 kilograms of bamboo leaves for each panda per day.

The feed contains chicken, carrots and barley. Each panda also gets an apple after each meal.

Meanwhile, the caretaker has lowered the concentration of milk as the pandas have grown stronger and built up immunity.

Also yesterday, Shanghai Wildlife Park said a new panda area will be ready at the end of the month. The area will occupy 10,000 square meters, including a display area, a backyard and a bamboo forest.

The area imitates pandas' natural living environment, and will be equipped with panda toys such as swings and slides.

The 10 Expo pandas will be moved to the park for the second half of the year.


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