Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bamboo Buffet: Food for Pandas Grown in Backyards

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bamboo Buffet: Food for Pandas Grown in Backyards

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Georgians are growing bamboo in their backyards to help feed the pandas at Zoo Atlanta.

Bamboo makes up 98 to 99 percent of pandas' diets, WABE Radio reported .

The zoo's pandas consume an enormous amount of it -- more than 200 pounds between all four of them together -- every day.

"When pandas are eating, that's when they're happy," said Kenn Harwood, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, watching as Yang Yang, a 20-year-old male, sits in his enclosure, legs splayed out in front of him, munching thoughtfully on a pawful of leaves.

"For lack of a better term, he's a big goofball," Harwood says. "He's everybody's favorite. He's a great guy. He's about 300 pounds. Eats a lot of bamboo a day."

The zoo's bamboo team harvests it from Georgia yards. Team members cut about 400 pounds a day, from neighborhoods all over Atlanta and as far away as Dahlonega.

They use only uses hand tools like loppers and handsaws -- no motors or gas. …

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