Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Bamboo to the Rescue

by Susan Lumpkin

With our animals’ rapid bamboo consumption and an unexpected drop off in our bamboo regrowth, the Zoo was faced with a bamboo shortage this winter. We put out a call to area property owners for new sources of bamboo meeting the following criteria: more than one acre; located within a 30-mile driving distance from the Zoo; growing at least 100 feet from any road; and not treated with herbicides or pesticides.

Mike Maslanka
Nutritionist Mike Maslanka thanks the community for boosting the zoo's bamboo supply. (Jessie Cohen/NZP)

We were barraged with offers of help, and are now faced with the gratifying task of sorting through the 400-plus potential new sources. “The response from the community has been tremendous,” says Zoo nutritionist Mike Maslanka. “We have located a number of sizable stands that should meet our needs, as well as some smaller ones nearby that may serve as emergency stands.” The Zoo’s nutrition team has been making site visits to assess the bamboo, which will lead to later harvests.

“Folks have been calling with genuine concern for our animal collection and the desire to help the Zoo,” he says. “We want to thank the community for the outpouring of support.”


Read main story: "From Shoots to Stands"