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Pandas' Bamboo Diet May Endanger Them05:53
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New research examining the genetics of panda waste shows they're not very good at being vegetarian, or digesting bamboo. (Nathan Rupert/Flickr)
New research examining the genetics of panda waste shows they're not very good at being vegetarian, or digesting bamboo. (Nathan Rupert/Flickr)
This article is more than 5 years old.

Panda bears eat tons of bamboo. In fact, they spend up to 14 hours per day eating about 27 pounds of the plant material. But new research examining the genetics of panda waste shows that pandas are not very good at being vegetarian, or digesting bamboo.

The study, published in mBio, found that pandas lack the bacteria necessary to break cellulose in plants, and can digest only about 17 percent of what they eat.

Vicki Croke, who writes "The Wild Life" blog and is also the author of "The Lady and the Panda," joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson to discuss the study and why pandas are better suited to eat meat than plants.

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This segment aired on May 20, 2015.

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