Mulan and Maja, red pandas from Drusillas Park near Alfriston in East Sussex, have enjoyed a free bamboo supper after our team were called in to excavate invasive bamboo from the garden of a nearby property.
Several kilos of fresh bamboo were transported straight to the family-run Park within an hour of being cut, ensuring the plant arrived fresh and fragrant for the discerning pandas who each consume up to two kilos per day – up to 20,000 leaves – but will turn their noses up if it’s anything less than freshly chopped!
Keeping Mulan and Maja stocked with bamboo, which can be stored for several days in fresh water, is an ongoing challenge for the keepers at Drusillas Park which has its own plantation but struggles to keep up with the pandas’ voracious appetite.
While top of the wish list for hungry pandas, bamboo is less popular with homeowners and gardeners due to its invasive nature and the extraordinary distance the roots can travel – in excess of 30ft (10 metres). It can push up through brickwork, drains, cavity walls, patios and concrete, as well as parts of the garden where it’s not wanted, often crossing boundaries and causing disputes between neighbours.
We’re always looking for new environmentally friendly ways to dispose of plant waste, such as our recently patented method of converting Japanese knotweed waste to biochar, a useful soil amendment which locks the carbon scavenged by the plant away for thousands of years. Donating excavated bamboo to zoos and wildlife parks with resident pandas is an excellent way to dispose of the plant with minimal waste, while helping support the health and wellbeing of resident animals.
Nic Seal, founder and Managing Director of Environet, said: “Putting excavated plant material to good use is one of our biggest challenges and I can’t think of a better way to dispose of a van load of bamboo than to donate it to beautiful Mulan and Maja. We look forward to making further donations in the future to ensure the Drusillas pandas are kept well-stocked with their favourite food!”
Drusillas Head Keeper Gemma Romanis added: “Our own plantation has been struggling to keep up with our pandas’ enormous appetite, eating up to 2kg a day each, so we are enormously grateful for this very kind donation from Environet, who also brought one of Maja and Mulan’s favourite types of bamboo. I’m pleased to say we’ve recently spotted some promising behaviours which might mean babies are on the cards very soon!”
Nine-year-old female Mulan and three-year-old male Maja are among the most popular animals at Drusillas, with around 350,000 visitors coming to see them every year. Maja arrived at the Park in 2019 to join Mulan as part of an international breeding scheme. Native to the eastern Himalayas and southwest China, red pandas are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because the wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and poaching.