Every time you see a giant panda, it seems like it's either sleeping or it has a stick of bamboo in its hands that it's in the middle of devouring. It's no secret that giant pandas like bamboo; in fact, it's their main dish.
But why do they have a thing for bamboo? Scientists have long scratched their heads at why giant pandas have a liking for the low-nutrient plant, but it may finally make sense in a new research study.
Since bamboo isn't very nutrient-rich, it means that a giant panda doesn't get a lot of energy from the meal. As new research suggests, this is perfectly fine for a giant panda, because they're incredibly lazy animals that sleep most of the day and hardly exert any energy; since they hardly do anything, additional energy from other food sources isn't particularly necessary.
So just how lazy are they?
As a part of a science experiment, scientists attached GPS devices to the animals to track their movements throughout the day and examined the chemical makeup of the animals' feces to determine how much energy they were actually exerting in a day.
It was found that the animals only exerted about 38% of the energy that other animals in the giant panda's size group normally would, so they're almost two-thirds lazier than animals of comparable size.
"Pandas save a lot of energy by being frugal with the energy they spend on physical activity," said professor John Speakman from the University of Aberdeen and Chinese Academy of Sciences. "However, it is not only their low activity that contributes to their low metabolism; the metabolic rate of an active panda is still lower than a completely stationary human."
The giant panda's lazy and slow energy efficient lifestyle combined with tiny energy efficient organs and a low metabolism that's even lower than the metabolism of a completely at-rest human, means that a giant panda is a very energy efficient animal capable of surviving on bamboo.
Giant pandas are typically found in China, where they are known as an endangered species. There are anywhere from 1,000-3,000 giant pandas known to exist in the wild.