replacer (Enfamil®, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Evansville, IN; www. and a domestic dog milk replacer (Esbilac®, PetA9®, Hampshire, IL; The blending of these two commercially available products delivers micronutrients consistent with estimated requirements of growing carnivores from the Esbilac® component, along with a lower casein, higher whey fraction from the Enfamil® component. The latter characteristic appears to be important in regulating curd formation in the stomach of the giant panda. High-casein milks tend to form a strong clot, or curd, in the neonate's stomach. This is an adaptive strategy in some species (e.g. bovids) which regulates the digestion and absorption of energy and nutrients between feedings. In other species (e.g. humans) that consume high-casein milk, these curds can become indigestible, forming obstructions (lactobe-zoars) in the gastrointestinal tract. Morbidity associated with the formation of lactobezoars has been reported in other hand-reared species, including tropical bears. This formula was developed to minimise the potential of indigestible curd forming.

These two products are available in many different forms, including powders, concentrated liquids and ready-to-use liquids. The use of powdered ingredients is preferred as they provide a higher total whey content, which is less likely to form lactobezoars. However, using powders complicates mixing. Blenders should never be used to mix powders with water as the force of the process can separate the lipids from the remainder of the formula. After water is added, it is important to strain the mixture once by stirring or pressing the formula through a kitchen strainer, incorporating all powder lumps. This should be repeated, as necessary, to eliminate larger particles and thus avoid clogging the nipple of the feeding bottle. Additionally, it is important to include Enfamil® low iron powder in the formula from Days 0 to 30, due to the tendency of the higher iron product to cause constipation and dyspepsia. On Day 31, Enfamil® low iron should be replaced with Enfamil® with iron. Finally, in the case of a weak or dehydrated infant, an oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte® (Abbott Laboratories/Ross Products, Columbus, OH; may also be offered as the sole food item for the first few feedings. The quantities offered are dependent on the extent that the infant is dehydrated; however, fluid maintenance requirements for other carnivores (e.g. the domestic dog and cat) range from 50 to 90 ml kg-1 body weight per day (Haskins, 1988).

There are alternative ingredients for some of the products shown in Table 13.2. One is Enfamil® Concentrated Liquid, which has 50% less water than the ready-to-use liquid. Using Enfamil® Concentrated Liquid requires adding an equal volume of water to make a formula equivalent to Enfamil® ready-to-use liquid. Enfamil® Powder is also available and requires mixing with two volumes of water to generate a product equivalent to ready-to-use Enfamil®. Esbilac® is also commercially available as a liquid or dry powder. For the latter, powder is mixed with two volumes of water, which gives the equivalent of the liquid counterpart.

Although it is recommended that all components, including water, of any hand-rearing formula be measured and allocated by weight, some facilities may be lacking appropriate weighing equipment. As an interim solution, the weight of various formula components per 100 ml volume is summarised in Table 13.3.

Feeding apparatus

The type of nipple used is crucial, especially during the early days of life because the neonate's swallowing reflex is incomplete. Heat sterilising nipples causes premature degradation, and worn, hardened or cracked

Table 13.3 Weights per 100 ml of products used in formula for feeding giant panda cubs

Product Volume (ml) Weight (g)

Enfamil®, ready-to-use liquid 100 -

Enfamil®, concentrated liquid 100 105

Enfamil®, powder 100 63

Esbilac®, liquid 100 105

Esbilac®, powder 100 43

Water 100 100

nipples increase the risk of aspiration and must be discarded. Soft nipples with large holes require less vigour for successful nursing, but can also allow excessively rapid formula flow. The preferred apparatus for the newborn giant panda for the first two weeks is the Ross/Abbott Infant Special Care Nipple (Abbott Laboratories/Ross Products), which is short, soft and originally developed for the premature human infant. The end of each of these nipple units has a pre-stamped, appropriately sized hole. Even so, a dilute formula can flow too rapidly from the nipple. Securing the nipple ring tightly to the bottle and holding the bottle horizontally during feeding will slow formula flow to avoid aspiration. From Day 14 until four months of age, an Evenflo® Standard Single Hole Nipple (Evenflo® Products, Piqua, OH; is recommended. Either of the above nipples can be affixed to a Gradu-feed® Nurser (Evenflo® Products), a 60-ml graduated bottle which allows accurate monitoring of the amount of formula consumed. From four until eight months of age, a standard lambing nipple can be used in combination with a Nasco® Feeding Bottle (8 or 16 ounce; Nasco®, Modesto, CA;

Giant pandas may feed from a bottle up to 18 months of age, but should be encouraged to consume formula from a shallow bowl by eight months.

Feeding a 'compromised' neonate

In the case of a cub that is injured, weak or extremely small (<80 g body weight), the suckling response may be insufficient to ingest adequate formula from the Ross/Abbott nipple. Tube feeding should be considered. Then, once the swallowing/suckling reflex is developed, the infant should be graduated to a soft marsupial nipple (WXICOF,

Wentzville, MO; before advancing to the Ross/Abbott nipple. However, extreme care should be used when first using this marsupial nipple, ensuring that the nipple hole is as small as possible and that the nipple be placed in the panda's mouth at a horizontal angle to avoid too-rapid fluid flow and aspiration of formula into the lungs. At the breeding centre in the Wolong Nature Reserve in 1999, a 53-g cub accepted a short, rounded teat (Pet Nurser®, Pet A9®) after the initial first days of tube feeding. Within ten days, he was nursing from the Ross/Abbott nipple. By Day 22, his muzzle had grown sufficiently to accommodate the standard Evenflo® nipple.

Feeding regimen and concerns

The semi-hairless, newborn panda can easily become chilled when removed from its incubator for feeding. Therefore, the feeding area should be both warm and humid, using a portable space heater and humidifier, if necessary. Personnel should begin by washing hands thoroughly or wearing clean gloves. The formula should be warmed to body temperature (38 to 39°C) in a cup of warm clean water. A microwave should not be used for warming because uneven heating can cause serious burns.

The amount of formula per bottle should not exceed gastric capacity, which is projected as 50 ml kg-1 body weight. For the first week of life, total daily intake should not exceed 20% body weight. The total volume offered is equally divided among the number of feedings offered per day. If the formula is tolerated well by the end of the first week, the total daily volume can be increased to 25% of body weight. Suggested feeding frequencies and volumes for giant panda cubs of various ages are provided in Table 13.4.

The neonatal giant panda will not urinate or defecate without stimulation. To mimic stimulation by licking from the dam, warm water should be gently applied to the urogenital region with a cotton ball or damp cloth. This is typically done before each feeding; stimulation does not always produce urine and faeces. However, frequent opportunities to eliminate should be given because mother pandas frequently lick the genital region of the cub during the first few weeks postpartum.

The cub should be fed in a sternal position with the head slightly elevated, although some individuals appear more comfortable with their entire body (head up) at 45 degrees. Rolled-up artificial fur or a surrogate add comfort. Begin by feeding only small amounts, gradually

Table 13.4 Suggested feeding frequency, number of feedings and total formula volume (% body weight) offered during a 24-hour period for giant panda cubs of various ages (Day 0 = day of birth)


Feeding frequency

Per 24 hours

Total % body weight

Days 0 to 7

Every 2 hours

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