Milk for pandas
State-of-the-art machinery is being used to characterise the proteins and other molecules in the milk. One challenge is that the milk’s composition changes. Colostrum is not the same as milk produced later. Unique to pandas and other bear species is the enormous development of the young. Bear cubs are very small and underdeveloped. The mothers are at least one thousand times smaller than the baby. And the milk contributes to the healthy development of the young. The composition of the milk keeps changing: some molecules are abundant at first and later absent, or the other way round. Other molecules are present in constant quantities. The researchers say that they are still a long ways away from the perfect artificial milk, but that the data found so far points in the right direction.