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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 02:52 GMT
Underfed pandas given energy biscuits
Pandas eating bamboo
The standard bamboo fare is just not good enough

China's endangered giant pandas are now dining on nutritious gourmet biscuits.

The animals' regular bamboo diet is simply not good enough, according to Chinese researchers.

The pandas find the biscuits very tasty

They have begun to produce delicious, vitamin-packed panda biscuits.

The giant pandas already have a lot to worry about - from poaching to the destruction of their natural habitat, and breeding problems.

Now scientists say the animals are not eating properly.

They are not getting enough vitamins, minerals or fibre, and suffer from malnutrition as a result.

The new biscuits are high in all three - and to avoid confusing the pandas, they come in bamboo-like shapes.

The pandas find the biscuits "very tasty", scientists say.

Stimulating appetites

There are only 1,000 giant pandas left in the wild.

Panda eating a carrot
A panda cannot live on carrots either
At the Panda Breeding Centre in Sichuan Province, researchers are scrambling to boost the animal's population.

But pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity - and are said to have a low libido.

Scientists have tried everything from Viagra to sex education videos.

Now at least, the remaining pandas will enjoy a balanced diet.

But the hunting and logging continues, and their numbers are dwindling.

See also:

25 Nov 02 | Technology
27 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jun 99 | Science/Nature
14 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
09 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
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