1. They only use about 38% of the energy that other animals with the same body mass would need. Scientists found this out by analyzing chemicals in the pandas’ poop. In fact, they use the amount of energy each day that a three-toed sloth might use! That is low! They don’t move much, and when they do, they move very slowly. By doing this, they conserve energy.
2. Relative to their size, giant pandas have a smaller brain, liver and kidneys than other bears. These smaller organs require less energy which helps them to conserve energy.
3. Two of their thyroid hormones were about half the level of what is usually seen in mammals of the same body size. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism. The levels of these two hormones were even lower than hibernating black bears! Scientists found there is a mutation in the gene that is involved with the thyroid hormone production. If we had the same mutation, we would have an under-active thyroid.
The panda's lazy lifestyle, small organs and thyroid hormones help the giant panda conserve energy and be able to live on bamboo, which is a low nutrient food. So the next time you see a giant panda at a zoo and he is not moving very much, you will know why! #giantpanda