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'An Evolutionary Throwback': Panda Filmed Eating Meat

The staff at a Chinese nature reserve have caught a very rare thing on film: a wild panda eating the meat of a dead widebeest.

The AP reports:

"Staff at the Wanglong Nature Reserve in southwest Sichuan province set up the camera after noticing dead animals with chew marks. It was not known if the panda had killed the animals.

"The Pingwu County forestry bureau says the panda appears to be healthy and strong."

While pandas are known to mostly eat bamboo, they have been known to eat some meat. The World Wildlife Fund, which uses a giant panda as its logo, says that only about 1 percent of a panda's diet "is made up of other plants and meat."

What's interesting is what you hear Lin Youping, of the forestry department, say in the video. That watching this is watching an "evolutionary throwback."

The WWF adds that pandas are members of the bear family, so they have the digestive system of an animal that eats meat. "But they differ in the sense that they have adapted to a vegetarian diet," the WWF reports.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.