On May 7, 2018 the Calgary Zoo is welcoming four Giant Pandas, adults Er Shun and Da Mao and cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. There has been much excitement in the Calgary media building up to this day. The zoo boasts of the "newly constructed habitat that promises to be a unique experience where you can discover so much about these charming and elusive animals.
Since many Calgarians are talking about the arrival of the pandas, I thought that I would add a little panda trivia of my own:
Ten years ago this October 11, Beijing Genomics Institute at Shenzhen (BGI-Shenzhen) announced the completion of first draft genome sequence of a female giant panda named Jingjing. At that time, the sequencing was the first fully sequenced Ursidae and the second Carnivore animal besides dog.
Pandas have 20 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes.
One application of the panda DNA knowledge allows trackers to extract DNA from fresh panda feces in the wild and using that information to predict the population, and genetic diversity in an aid to conservation of the species.
Pandas in the wild move up and down slope to eat a variety of bamboo types. Just like human vegetarians, the panda also needs to consume nutrients from different sources to get a complete diet. Recent studies indicate that female pandas greatly vary their diet through pregnancy right up until weaning. Attention to these details may increase the success of captive breeding programs.
The unique panda coloration may be a result of its poor diet. A study of 195 other carnivore species and 39 related bear subspecies led researches to speculate that the panda is never able to build up the fat reserves for hibernation thus requiring yearlong activity through snowy mountains and tropical forests. The black and white act as a type of camouflage and the placement of the black ears and eyes on the white face give an impression of ferocity to potential predators and enemies.
In Calgary, it's called Panda Passage. Perhaps we will cross paths learning about these rare and amazing bears.
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