Goddamn fakers. Pandas, who supposedly have a strict diet of bamboo shoots and leaves (and apparently rack of lamb), also have quite a sweet tooth, according to research from the Monell Center in the US:
A combination of behavioral and molecular genetic studies demonstrated that the giant panda both possesses functional sweet taste receptors and also shows a strong preference for some natural sweeteners, including fructose and sucrose.
For taste preference tests, the animals were given two bowls of liquid and allowed to drink for five minutes. One bowl contained water and the other contained a solution of water mixed with one of six different natural sugars: fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. Each sugar was presented at a low and a high concentration.
The pandas preferred all the sugar solutions to plain water. This was especially evident for fructose and sucrose, as the animals avidly consumed a full liter of these sugary solutions within the respective five-minute test periods.
“Pandas love sugar,” said Reed. “Our results can explain why Bao Bao, the six-month-old giant panda cub at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, is apparently relishing sweet potato as a first food during weaning.”
Noting that bamboo is a grass-like plant that contains very small amounts of sugars and does not taste sweet to humans, the researchers wondered whether giant pandas, like their Carnivora cat relatives, had lost sweet taste perception. An alternate possibility was that the panda maintain a functional sweet taste receptor, similar to other plant-eating mammals.
Pandas only like natural sugars and not artificial sweeteners however, so zookeepers can forget about feeding them Peanut M&Ms from the nearby vending machine to save money on bamboo.