Why do pandas eat only bamboo? WANA CNEC Christian College Pandas certainly have a monotonous diet. There is some debate whether pandas belong to the raccoon family or the bear family. The red panda and the giant panda are found in remote areas of Asia. The red panda, also known as the lesser panda and cat bear, resembles a raccoon but has a longer body and tail and a rounder head. It is found at high altitudes in the Himalayas and the mountains of western China and northern Burma. The red panda spends much of its time in trees but feeds on the ground, eating nuts, roots and other plant matter. They also eat fruits and insects. The giant panda resembles a bear, though its anatomy is similar to that of a raccoon. Giant pandas live in the high mountain bamboo forests of central China and their diet consists almost entirely of bamboo shoots. Because bamboo has very little nutritional value, they need to eat for up to 14 hours and consume 12 to 14 kilograms of bamboo a day. This also means the animals have to lead a very leisurely lifestyle - they're not lazy, it's simply that they do not have the energy to do anything very energetic. Zoo pandas also eat rice gruel, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes. Scientists do not really know why giant pandas evolved to eat mainly bamboo. However, their eating bamboo - which is low in nutrients - is probably one of the reasons for their low rate of reproduction. An An and Jia Jia, the giant pandas at Ocean Park, are fed fresh bamboo every day, which is brought in twice a week from Guangdong. There are fewer than 1,000 giant pandas left in the wild. The main threats to giant pandas are habitat destruction, poaching for export of their skins and accidental stepping in traps set for other animals. The pandas' habitat has declined by 50 per cent in the past 15 years, making it one of the most endangered species on earth. The scarcity of bamboo in the remaining areas makes the problem even worse. I've heard that people with AIDS or even HIV infection need to be careful of what they eat. Why? Although food poisoning is a risk for everyone, healthy people can deal with small amounts of bacteria in their food, while people with AIDS or HIV infection have weakened immune systems, making them susceptible to developing serious illness and suffering infections that return again and again. Thorough cooking is vital for Aids patients, but everyone should do their best to minimise the risk of food poisoning: fish should be entirely opaque and flake easily with a fork and meat should be cooked until its no longer pink inside. It's also best to avoid any unpasteurised milk or cheese, and raw eggs or any foods that contain them. Leftovers should be refrigerated right away, and frozen foods should be thawed only in a microwave or refrigerator. Raw vegetables are usually safe to eat at home if you wash them thoroughly, but restaurant salad bars are often best avoided.