The red panda is a small mountain mammal that shares a name but is not related to the giant panda. This fluffy red-coated animal resembles a cross between a bear and a raccoon, but is neither.
Range & Habitat
Temperate forests of the Himalayas, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, China. Red pandas prefer altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 feet and spend most of their time in trees.
Conservation Status: Endangered
Endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.
In the Wild -- Bamboo, fruit, grasses, roots, acorns, insects, eggs, young birds, small rodents.
At the Zoo: Red panda biscuits, grapes, coreless apples, mixed fruit and bamboo (grown at the zoo in season; purchased from other sources in winter).
Fun Facts about the Red Panda
- Red panda were thought to be distantly related to both giant pandas and raccoons, but they have no close evolutionary relatives; they are a unique species.
- Like giant pandas, red pandas live in the forests of central and eastern Asia and eat primarily bamboo shoots and leaves. The name “panda” comes from a Nepali word meaning “bamboo-eater.”
- Red pandas are adapted to their cold native climate. They have fur on the pads of their feet and use their long, fluffy tails as a wraparound blanket to protect them from chilly mountain temperatures.
- The red panda’s front paws have a unique adaptation, a “false thumb” that enables it to climb and grasp bamboo leaves and poles. This “thumb” is actually an enlarged wrist bone. This adaptation also enables red pandas to hold a paintbrush and other enrichment items.
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Retrieved from SREL DNA Lab. www.uga.edu/srel/Red_Pandas/RPwhere.htm. Science and nature: animals. (n.d.).
Retrieved from BBC Wildfacts. www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/6.shtml.