Desperate times call for desperate measures. As just about anyone who follows stories about these creatures knows, pandas are supposed to subsist entirely on a diet of bamboo. Indeed, Stephen Jay Gould’s famous essay about the panda’s “thumb” is all about the evolution of the front paw to make it easier for the panda to get at the edible portion of a bamboo stalk.
However, panda followers also know that there has been a problem with a decline in bamboo stocks (associated with an increase in land development). As a result, there is a story on today’s BBC News Web site about how the panda may be adapting to this change in its environment. A camera set up in China’s Sichuan Province has captured a panda gnawing on the bones of a dead gnu, apparently relishing it as much as any stalk of bamboo. (The Web page for this report includes the video.) This is all very well and good for the interests in survival, but what will the rabbis say if the panda then develops a taste for gnu milk?