chomp. Deep in a forest in China, a giant panda is having a meal. She sits on the ground with her back legs stretched out in front of her. Bamboo stalks pile up in her lap. She liſt s a bamboo stem and sniff s it. She
looks it over before nibbling its green leaves. She bites the stem. T e bamboo snaps with a loud crunch. T e panda peels away the bamboo’s tough
outer layer with her sharp teeth. She soſt ly smacks her lips as she chews the stalk’s soſt inner layer. As the panda nibbles the bamboo, she
doesn’t notice the other animals around her. Golden pheasants scratch at leaves and twigs on the ground. A musk deer walks by. Insects buzz by. Golden snub-nosed monkeys chatter to each other in the treetops. A misty rain blankets the forest now. T e
forest sits high in a mountain range. It’s oſt en cool and wet here. T e rain doesn’t bother the panda. She has thick, waterproof fur to keep her warm in her cold, wet habitat. As the rain pours down, she keeps chewing.
Eating a Lot to Get a Little Pandas eat a lot. T ey need to. A panda is a bear. Most bears are omnivores. T at means they eat both meat and plants. A panda, however, mainly eats bamboo. Bamboo doesn’t have many nutrients in it, though. T at means pandas have to eat a lot of bamboo to get enough energy to survive. Today is no diff erent. T is panda will spend
more than 12 hours eating bamboo. By the end of the day, she will have eaten as much as 36 kilograms (80 pounds) of bamboo. It’s a tough diet, yet pandas have
adaptations that allow them to live this way. For example, this panda grasps and holds each bamboo stem in her paws as she eats it. She can do this because she has a long bone in her wrist. It works just like a thumb. She uses her sharp, front teeth to bite through the tough stems. She uses her large, fl at back teeth to crush and grind the bamboo.
Crunch. Chomp, chomp,
A New Arrival Aſt er a full day of chewing and chomping, the sun sets. T e forest grows dark and quiet. T e panda finishes one last bite. She is done eating for the day. It’s time to rest. Pandas oſt en sleep right where they eat.
T ey don’t usually look for shelter at night. Tonight is diff erent. Something special is about to happen. T is panda is about to give birth to a cub. She must find a safe, dry place. T e panda shuffl es over to a hollow tree
and squeezes inside. T e tree is dry, warm, and dark. It’s a good den. In the morning, a small sound comes from
the hollow tree. It is the cry of a panda cub. T e cub is pink and furless. It can’t open its
eyes yet. It’s about the size and weight of a stick of butter. His mother is about 900 times larger.
This panda mother gently carries her newborn baby in her mouth.
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