Giant pandas spend most of their days chomping on bamboo, but a new study finds that they have a sweet tooth too.
The discovery, published in the latest PLoS ONE, explains why a baby giant panda at a U.S. zoo craves a certain sweet food.
"Pandas love sugar," study author Danelle Reed of the Monell Chemical Senses Center said in a press release. "Our results can explain why Bao Bao, the 6-month-old giant panda cub at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is apparently relishing sweet potato as a first food during weaning."
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For the study, Reed and her colleagues presented eight giant pandas with two bowls of liquid. One contained plain water, while the other contained a solution of water mixed with one of six different natural sugars: fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose and sucrose. Each sugar was presented at a low and a high concentration.
There is no doubt as to what the pandas like. They preferred all of the sugar solutions to plain water. This was especially evident for fructose and sucrose, as the animals quickly gulped down these sugary solutions within the respective five-minute test periods.