Despite being included amongst the Carnivora, the Giant Panda is primarily herbivorous and their diet is composed almost exclusively of bamboo. Giant pandas eat up to 20 kg of bamboo a day, eating for up to 14 hours a day! In order to meet the food needs of its new residents, Beauval will receive deliveries of bamboo from a bamboo plantation not far from the ZooParc.
In the wild, bamboo itself causes a problem for the survival of the panda as after it flowers, the plant dies. It can then take nearly 10 years before it produces shoots large enough to be eaten.
From the 1970s to the 1980s, the giant panda’s habitat was halved in size as bamboo forests were exploited for urbanisation and to make way for agricultural land. In the past, giant pandas would migrate to find new feeding sites, but as their habitat has become more and more fragmented, they have no longer been able to move between these pockets of forest. They are therefore extremely vulnerable to the effects of episodes of mass bamboo death. Furthermore, as pandas have no longer been able to migrate between these pockets of forest, it has become much more difficult for pandas to find a mate and the risk of inbreeding has therefore increased.
In order to counteract these problems, the Chinese government banned logging in the habitat of giant pandas in 1998 and created about 40 protected areas. In addition, the Chinese government put nearly 10 ‘green corridors’ in place in order to establish a link between the fragmented habitats and therefore linking the isolated populations of giant pandas. These corridors of bamboo link separate pockets of land while also providing food. This therefore increases the genetic diversity of the populations by allowing giant pandas to mate with individuals that they were previously separated from.