【Unlocking Word Meanings】
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. carnivore /ˈkɑrnəˌvɔr, -ˌvoʊr/ (n.) – an organism that eats meat or flesh
Example: Tigers, dogs, and cats are examples of carnivores.
2. feed on /fid ɒn/ (phrasal v.) – to rely on something as food; to be sustained by something
Example: Aside from fish, bears also feed on plants.
3. notion /ˈnoʊʃən/ (n) – an opinion or general belief about something
Example: Galileo Galilei rejected the notion that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth.
4. solely /ˈsoʊlli/ (adv.) – not involving anything else
Example: Elephants solely eat fruits, vegetables, and other kinds of plants.
5. sweet tooth /swit tuθ/ (n.) – strong liking for sweet food
Example: Children usually have a sweet tooth.
Read the text below.
A recent study has confirmed that pandas also love to eat sweet foods.
Gary Beauchamp [bee-ch uh m], director of the Monell Center, and his team tested eight pandas to find out whether the animals would respond to sweet taste. Researchers gave their subjects two bowls of liquid, one sweetened while the other was just plain water. All pandas chose the sweetened water over the plain one.
Although pandas are carnivores in nature, they strictly feed on bamboos. Because bamboos have very low sugar content, scientists wonder if pandas have lost their ability to recognize sweet taste. However, findings of Beauchamp and his team’s study prove this notion wrong. According to the researchers, pandas can still detect sweet tastes.
In fact, when the researchers tested all other forms of sugar, all pandas preferred sucrose and fructose, which humans consider the sweetest.
Even so, experts are still not sure why pandas solely eat bamboos if they have a sweet tooth. One theory is that fruits might have been their original food diet before human activities such as agriculture and forest destruction forced them to live on the mountains. This may have led pandas to rely so much on plants such as bamboos.
Some experts say that bamboo contains nutrients that enable these animals to survive. Additionally, Beauchamp said that scientists also examine the possibility that bamboos may taste like candies for pandas.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
· What do you think would be the impact of this study on the preservation of pandas?
· If you were an environmentalist, how would you promote the preservation of pandas?
· Why do you think it is necessary for humans to preserve animal species?
· What can we do to help preserve endangered animals?