Wednesday Zen Moment: Pandas try pumpkin, still like bamboo better

Pandas eat bamboo but an experiment in China shows the critters might be willing to try other vegetables.

After Halloween, staff at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research centre in Chengdu in Sichuan province tried to give some of its leftover carved pumpkins to the pandas.

At first the pandas just played with the pumpkin that had been left out for them. Some then tried to nibble on them a bit.

The gourds were available in all dens at the base from Friday to Sunday. Pandas used them as toys or tried a few bites of the new food.

According to Li Jie, an information officer with the base, pumpkins were served to the cuddly bears for the weekend after Halloween, which fell on Thursday.

Serving pumpkins first started last Halloween. Most pandas treated the new additions as containers and searched for apples and buns hidden inside. Only a few pandas thought to try the pumpkins out as food.

The new snacks prolonged the eating time of pandas and made them take more exercise, base chief Zhang Zhihe said.

In addition to pumpkins, pandas in the base have tried novel food like kiwi fruit and cantaloupe, he said.

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