Bamboo and Panda Poo

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It’s okay everyone, you can roll up your tape measures and cast aside any Giant panda poo you may have laying around, because the answer to the burning question of just how big is a Giant panda poo, has been well and truly answered. 

The question of just how big is a Giant panda poo was first asked a several months ago, when we were contacted by author John Townsend who was in need of some extremely precise Giant panda poo dimensions for a book he was working on. As we currently don’t have any Giant panda poo in our collection, National Poo Museum director Daniel posed this question of panda poo size to some of the zoos around the world that actually house Giant pandas. 

It was the lovely people at Adelaide Zoo in Australia and Zoo Atlanta in the United States, who were kind enough to respond to our request for help and provide us with the information we needed to pass on to John Townsend. And so folks, thanks to said zoological parks, if you’ve ever been the tiniest bit curious about Giant panda poo, here it is in all its glory

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The yellow poos indicate the panda has been eating the stem of the bamboo, whereas the green examples show the panda has enjoyed a meal of bamboo leaves. According to Lucy Catt, Senior keeper of Pandas at Adelaide Zoo, Giant pandas tend to eat more leaf such as Arrow leaf, Chinese Temple and Golden leaf during the summer months, then in winter the pandas transition to the thicker, bulkier culm Bamboo such as Giant Timber. 

The orange bits that look like carrots in both the green and yellow panda droppings, are indeed carrots! Apparently the pandas at Adelaide Zoo are given them to eat during their training sessions. 

Interestingly, scientists in China have shown giant pandas’ gut microbiota (the tiny organisms naturally found in the intestine) have not adapted particularly well to deal with bamboo. In fact, according to recent research, Giant pandas still retain the gut of carnivores. Although they spend up to 14 hours a day chomping through plants, stems and leaves, Giant pandas can only digest approximately 17% of what they consume. 

At Adelaide Zoo, their resident Giant pandas reportedly munch their way through 30kg of bamboo per panda, per day! When they’re not eating, they’re sleeping...and pooing presumably!  

According to Michelle Kolar from Zoo Atlanta, the average size of an adult Giant panda poo is 15cm x 7cm,  (6"x 3") and she should know, because she managed to persuade one of her team to retrieve a fresh specimen and measure it especially for us. 

Armed with these vital statistics, director Daniel wasted no time in passing them straight on to author John Townsend who was waiting to add them to all the other animal poo dimensions he’d collected for his brand new book entitled, Life-Sized Animal Poo.

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This wonderful book features the poos of a whole host of animals from that of a tiny House Mouse, to the magnificent and enormous African Elephant. 

It has to be said, we are extremely proud to be Wildlife Consultant for this fun and informative interactive nature guide. In the words of director Daniel, ‘Every poo has a story to tell and with John Townsend’s book in hand, the nature detective can use their eyes, nose and possibly a stick to tell if it’s the calling card of a woodpecker, a wombat or a wolf. For all sorts of reasons this can be a useful thing to know!’

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The National Poo Museum would like to thank both Lucy Catt Senior Keeper of Pandas and Native Animals at Adelaide Zoo, for her extremely helpful information and photographs, and Michelle Kolar from Zoo Atlanta for sending her animal care team off into the Giant panda enclosure with a tape measure!