Giant pandas are "picky" eaters, often just content with eating certain types of bamboo shoots and leaves, which varies depending on the time of the year.
Sometimes, these animals eat nothing but one variety, and then refuse to take it ever again. This has left scientists concerned.
With this in mind, experts in Britain will investigate the complex diet of giant pandas in order to better understand the animal's eating habits, thereby helping conserve their species in the wild.
Eating Bamboo All Year Round
Past studies have suggested that aside from 60 different species of bamboo, giant pandas could possibly even eat other plant species, animal or fungi.
However, there is a huge gap as to what they exactly eat, when they eat it, and what species other than bamboo do they eat, scientists said. To figure this out, the country's only giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, will have their poop examined by researchers under the microscope.
The pair of giant pandas currently lives in Edinburgh zoo, and are called Sweetheart and Sunshine in English, respectively.
Scientists from the Royal Botanic Garden will receive poop samples from Edinburgh and other zoos all over the world, where it is known what and how much the giant pandas have been fed.
Molecular ecologist Linda Neaves, who leads the Botanics team, said they will develop DNA-based methods to inspect panda poo DNA. This will help identify what the animals have eaten and which of the pandas have eaten it.
"This information will help refine understanding of giant panda habitat now," said Neaves.
By understanding the habits of pandas, scientists will get valuable information for the management and conservation of wildlife populations and how will it shift in the future, she added.
Tian Tian And Yang Guang's Life At The Zoo
The Edinburgh zoo pandas arrived in the Scottish capital about five years ago on a 10-year loan from China.
Zoo officials have been hoping that Tian Tian would produce a cub. In July 2014, it was reported that Tian Tian was finally pregnant after being artificially inseminated. However, the panda's pregnancy did not continue. Three attempts of artificial insemination have all failed so far.
Photo: Ben Sutherland | Flickr