Feeds

Which zoo animals like artificial sweeteners: Facts at last

Experts baffled by aspartame-guzzling Swiss pandas

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Almost everybody has, no doubt, at one time or another asked themselves one of the most urgent questions facing the human race today. That is, of course: Just which kinds of Swiss zoo animals like the taste of artificial sweeteners?

Wonder no more, because an international team of scientists has at last carried out a thorough investigation into the matter. In a shock finding, it has turned out that red pandas resident in Switzerland are absolute fools for aspartame, neotame and sucralose. Swiss meerkats and ferrets, however, prefer real sugar: and lions living in the land of cuckoo-clocks don't like sweet things at all.

"This is the essence of molecular science," remarked Joseph G Brand PhD, a biophysicist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "Asking a behavioral question and getting a molecular answer."

It seems that Brand and his colleague Xia Li enlisted the help of Swiss brainbox Dieter Glaser from Zurich Uni. Glaser carried out taste tests on lions, ferrets, genets, meerkats, mongoose, and red pandas living in Swiss zoos. All these species are of the order Carnivora.

According to the Monell centre:

Lions, like other cats, are obligate carnivores, meaning that they eat almost exclusively meat. Meerkats are mainly insectivores, while red pandas are primarily herbivores that almost exclusively eat bamboo leaves and shoots.

As expected from the previous findings, the lion did not prefer any of the sweet solutions ... Each of the remaining species preferred at least some of the natural sugars ... Because only primates were believed to be able to taste aspartame, the researchers predicted that none of the Carnivore species tested would show a preference for the artificial sweeteners.

This indeed was the case for five of the species. However, the sixth species – the red panda – drank large amounts of the artificial sweeteners aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.

"The red panda is able to taste artificial sweeteners," said a baffled Dr Li. "What we don't know is why this particular animal has this unusual ability. Perhaps the red panda's unique sweet receptor evolved to allow this animal to detect some compound in its natural food that has a similar structure to these sweeteners."

That's just the way it is in science, of course. You answer one tricky question - ie, which animals like artificial sweeteners - and find that now you have another conundrum to solve: why do pandas like them? Does it have anything to do with living in Switzerland, the nation with the highest per-capita consumption of chocolate in the world? (22.36 pounds of choccy per Swiss resident per year, apparently).

Needless to say, the allied scientists plan more detailed research. They say that painstaking work such as this "could eventually lead to the development of more acceptable sugar substitutes, potentially benefiting diabetics and other individuals on sugar-restricted diets." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.