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Early humans... Ate pandas...

Stashed in: History!, Quora!, Awesome, Tigers!, Bears!, Oh the Hue Manatee!, Bears, Kung Fu Panda, Meat!, Leopards!, Nasty.

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"In primitive times, people wouldn't kill animals that were useless to them," Wei Gunabiao tells the Chongqing Morning Post. Fossils show that the animals were often cut up, and because our ancestors wouldn't kill an animal just for killing's sake, we can logically deduce that early man consumed panda meat.

"As weird and stringy as panda meat sounds, those cute black and white critters of prehistoric times were not quite the same as the gentle, giant bears we know today," says Jessica Rawden at CinemaBlend. Just 10,000 years ago in Chongqing's high mountains, the animals were smaller — about "the size of Tibetan mastiffs," says Wei — and much more abundant. In other words, they were a far cry from the slightly goofy endangered creatures observed carefully in zoos today. It's likely that "prehistoric men and women quite enjoyed them," says Rawden. "I just wonder if they were a delicacy, or an everyday sort of meal."

Quora dares ask the question: Is panda meat tasty?

The answer is NO, as this excerpt describes:

They do not taste very good, if you believe one Chinese farmer quoted by an American biologist. The farmer was on trial for killing a panda:

JUDGE: "What did you do with the meat?"

LENG: "I carried it home and my wife cooked it with turnips. We ate some. It did not taste good. So we fed it to the pigs. And I took some to my sister."

He fed the panda to the pigs?!?!?!? Oh, the hue manatee!

panda meat chart

please don't eat me!

Early humans ate pandas? I am shawked!

dramatic eagle

shocked hawk

I'm glad Bender no longer tries to serve pandas.

to serve humans

Bee tee dub, panda meat jokes...

panda meat

...make angry panda VERY angry.

angry panda

I'm sure pandas don't taste good AT ALL, because if they did I'm sure that tigers would eat them.

Are there tigers in the bamboo forests?

There used to be tigers all over Asia.

Tiger range:

tiger range

Panda range:

panda range

So the ranges of tigers and pandas do not overlap, though pandas do share some range with leopards (the most widespread of all big cats), which are known to kill young pandas.

Wikipedia says leopards will prey on anything from insects to adult male elands (~ 1 ton), but prefer prey in the 20 - 90 lb. range. They seem to prey mainly on smaller, lower-risk prey as well as some larger cervid and bovid species.

Leopards top out at around 200 lbs for males. An adult male panda can be up to 350 lbs, and considering the claws and sharp teeth that his carnivorous ancestors gave him (as well as the powerful jaw muscles adapted for chewing fibrous plant matter), a leopard would probably not want to fuck with him. If the panda managed to get a good mouth hold on the leopard, he'd rip flesh and break bones like they were bamboo stalks.

Here is an excerpt from an interview panda biologist Wei Fuwen about the strenth and resilience of giant pandas:

Dr. Biology: Well, they are big. Are they strong?

Fuwen: I think so. It's very strong in the wild. In captivity we see pandas as very tender, but don't go quite close to them. It might be very dangerous.

Dr. Biology: You actually have a story about being in the wild and observing.

Fuwen: Yes, in the wild it's very hard to get close.

Dr. Biology: You actually have some recordings of pandas, don't you?

Fuwen: Sure, yes.

Dr. Biology: Well, maybe later in the show we can play some of those recordings and talk just a little bit about them.

Andrew: One thing I can say. Although pandas are very big and weigh a lot, they actually look even bigger. I remember when I first saw pandas at the Wulong Giant Panda Breeding Center. There was a one-year-old panda up in the tree, and it was looking like it didn't belong in the tree, like it would fall. It kept looking like it would fall, and it was very awkward. I whispered under my breath, "What happens if they fall?" The director of the breeding center said, "They bounce". And then, he let me hold the panda in my lap. The fur was so thick that I could see that maybe the panda would bounce.

So they're strong enough to climb, have thick fur (which coarsens with age), and are resilient enough to not be harmed by falling out of a tree.

On the other hand, an adult male tiger can be almost 700 lbs -- twice as big as our large male panda. Tigers are the biggest and strongest of the cats, which along with mustelids (weasels, badgers, wolverines, etc.) are probably the finest killing machines in the animal kingdom. Tigers are known to prey on other predators occasionally (including leopards), but they have a marked preference for ungulate prey.

There are some records of Siberian tigers eating brown bears as ungulate prey becomes scarce. Wikipedia says bears could even make up to 5–8% of a tiger's diet. But bears are clearly very dangerous prey, and tigers probably try to avoid going after bears if possible. There is at least one recorded case of a bear killing and eating a tiger, and they can also often manage to scare a tiger away from its recent kill (Wikipedia says the presence of tigers may therefore be a net benefit to Siberian bears).

tiger preying on bear

Now, a brown bear may be more energetic than a panda due to its more nutritious diet, but the World Wildlife Fund says that pandas can protect themselves as well as "most other bears" (perhaps excluding grizzlies? Pandas are roughly the size of black bears). Indian tigers are known to prey on sloth bears with some regularity, despite the fact that, again, the bears often fight back (occasionally even winning the fight), and may also sometimes scare a tiger away from a kill. Tigers are also capable of killing wild boar (~200 lb max weight) and crocodiles, though a mature saltwater crocodile (a mean and heavily armored 2,200 lbs of nasty) is probably more than a match for an adult male tiger. So, though dangerous, bears are not the worst of what tigers are willing to tangle with.

My final verdict is that, if their ranges overlapped, tigers probably would prey on pandas. Pandas are not as aggressive as other bears, and they rarely eat meat, so would probably not try to scare tigers away from kills like brown bears, sloth bears, and black bears do. However, pandas will still competently defend themselves when attacked, and the tiger would still be taking something of a calculated risk in preying on a panda. There is a chance that the tiger could be severely wounded, or even killed, though most of the time it would succeed in killing the panda.

Pandas max out at 350 pounds?! How big is Shaq?

Shaq panda

Kung Fu Panda teaches us that tigers and pandas can be friends.

kung fu panda tiger

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