Pandas Haven't Bounced Back From China Quake

Sichuan disaster presents lasting difficulties for breeders
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2009 4:12 PM CDT
A keeper plays with two giant pandas at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in Chengdu, China, June 22, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – China’s efforts to save the giant panda from extinction haven’t recovered from last year’s earthquake in Sichuan province, AFP reports. The temblor swallowed up whole groves of bamboo, causing a food shortage just as breeding centers, whose efforts have caused a recent panda “baby boom,” have more mouths to feed than ever.

“The food supply is very, very tight,” said the director of the Chengdu breeding center. “The disaster has brought big difficulties for our national treasure.” The panda’s delicate nature compounds quake damage—the animals are finicky eaters that prefer bamboo from the same area, so the loss of specific food sources present more difficulties than simply securing alternate bamboo. A hungry panda is less inclined to mate, a possible setback to recent breeding successes.