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Red Panda

Ailurus fulgens

About the Red Panda

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Geographic Range:

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Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ailuridae
Genus: Ailurus  
Species: fulgens

The red panda resembles a raccoon because of its ringed tail and mask-like face. It's named for the soft, dense red fur that covers even the soles of its feet, keeping it warm in the forests of its Himalayan habitat. The red panda’s daily grooming ritual includes licking the soles of its furry feet. The red panda has a bushy tail that provides balance while climbing trees, where its red-and-white markings camouflage it among the mosses and lichens that grow on the trees of its habitat. 

Viewing Tip

Yang is a sleepy gentleman; you can usually find him snoozing on a roof or on the highest shelf in his exhibit. Carys is an active panda, and you’ll often spot her making the rounds and eating all the bamboo in sight (though grapes are her favorite training treat)!

Red Panda Facts

Appearance:
The red panda is furry and red with soft, dense fur. This coat covers its entire body, even the soles of its feet, to keep the panda warm and reduce heat loss in the cold. They use their long, bushy tails to cover their face and keep their nose warm in the cold, as well as for balance when climbing in the trees.

Red pandas have red and white markings on their faces and tails that help them blend in with mosses and lichens growing on trees in their habitat. Their ears are large and pointed with white edges. Their feet are fully furred, and semi-retractable razor-sharp claws help pandas climb trees. Like the giant panda, red pandas have a bony projection on their wrist that acts like a thumb. This helps them grip bamboo stalks. Their large mouths and powerful jaws and teeth help them crush the stalks.

Size:
Length: Head and body, 20 to 26 inches; tail adds an additional 12 to 20 inches
Weight: 10 to 12 pounds

Diet:
Vegetarian diet of bamboo leaves, berries, roots, blossoms and the leaves of various plants. Pandas will sometimes eat birds’ eggs, insects, small rodents and young birds.

Reproduction:
Red pandas are sexually mature at 18 months. One to four young (two on average) are born after a gestation period of approximately 130 days. Baby pandas are born with all their fur, but they are blind and helpless. Their eyes typically open after two to four weeks. Young remain in the nest for 90 days and are weaned around 5 months of age; they stay with their mother for up to one year.

Behavior:
Red pandas are shy and solitary except during mating season. They're mostly active at night (nocturnal) as well as dawn and dusk (crepuscular), sleeping in trees during the day. They communicate through a variety of noises including shrill cries, whistling and chirping. Pandas groom daily, often licking the soles of their feet.

Habitat/Range:
Cool temperate bamboo forests in the foothills of the Himalayas from Nepal to Southwest China.

Median Life Expectancy:
Up to 14 years

Threats in the Wild:
The main threats to red pandas are illegal hunting and habitat destruction from increases in logging and farming. Red pandas are sometimes illegally hunted for their fur coat. Because they have a slow rate of reproduction due to slow growth, it’s difficult for red pandas to recover from population declines.