The giant panda has a complicated reputation. He is known as an adorable animal, a symbol of Chinese diplomacy, the poster child of endangered animals, the poster boy of the charismatic megafauna who receives too much attention for being in danger and a creature that is really bad for sex ( with exceptions).
Therefore, it is not surprising that pandas are seen as clumsy animals, but in fact they have a very impressive ability: their bodies neutralize cyanide. Yes, the poisonous chemical that smells like almonds.
You see, raw bamboo contains cyanide and, if eaten, will make the average person extremely sick; It can even be deadly. (The cooking gets rid of the cyanide.) The pandas, of course, mainly eat bamboo, and have adapted to overcome this. In a study published in Nature a couple of years ago, scientists investigated how it works by measuring the cyanide content in the bamboo shoots that fed 20 giant pandas. In addition to measuring cyanide in the sprouts themselves, they measured cyanide in panda feces.
They discovered that, in the first place, the pandas are ingesting cyanide, it is not as if they had found a way to eat only bamboo that does not contain it. The giant pandas absorbed more than 65 percent of the cyanide present in the outbreaks. But their bodies could convert 80 percent of that cyanide absorbed into a less toxic chemical called thiocyanate, which they then discarded. It's an inspiring story, really. It is possible to be a tender animal that everyone underestimates, with the little known power of eating poison.