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Poop-ular item: Chinese firm develops tissues made using panda dung

A box of "Panda Poo" tissue, made from fiber extracted from panda dung and uneaten bamboo. (Photo courtesy of the Sichuan Qianwei Fengsheng Paper Co.)

SHANGHAI -- A paper products firm in China's Sichuan province is teaming up with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda to make tissues using panda poop.

The Sichuan Qianwei Fengsheng Paper Co.'s new product, which uses undigested bamboo fibers in the dung, has become something of a sensation in China. The conservation center teaming up on the project is a world leader in panda breeding and research, and has about 270 of the animals. Shin Shin and Ri Ri, mother and father of the giant panda cub Xiang Xiang born at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo last June, are also originally from the center.

According to local media, fiber is extracted from the pandas' bamboo leftovers and dung, washed, and steamed repeatedly before being used to make tissues, toilet paper and other paper products. The fiber is sterilized with medical-grade oxygen, and meets Chinese government product safety standards.

A box of "Panda Poo" tissue is priced at 42 yuan (about 740 yen, or $6.56), making it a luxury item. It is light brown, and one local journalist reported it is "odorless and pretty much the same as regular tissue."

According to the Kobe Oji Zoo in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, pandas' intestines are short, so most of the bamboo the animals eat comes out the other end undigested. The Kobe zoo has also held a paper-making event using panda poop, but "with the amount they could collect in China, they can really make a commercial product," a zoo representative said.

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