Processing paper waste with panda feces

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Scientists from the University of Ghent will study the feces of Hao Hao and Xing Hui, the two giant pandas from Pairi Daiza animal park. They hope to discover how paper waste can be processed more quickly.

The researchers from LabMET (the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology) want to find out which bacteria provide the fast digestion in the giant pandas.

The diet of pandas consists for 99% bamboo. Bamboo largely consists of lignocellullose, a substance that is particularly difficult to digest and which is found for example in grass, stems, and wood. However, the digestive system of the panda is able to convert lignocellulose into sugars.

In a first phase, the research team will try to mimic the digestive process of the panda in a lab. To avoid disturbing of the daily routine of the pandas, the droppings will be collected in the panda cave when the animals are out.