Panda Updates – Friday, April 9
Did you know that the red panda was actually discovered 42 years before the giant panda? They are considered the “true” panda or “original” panda and are the only member of their taxonomic family, Ailuridae. They are native to India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China, and reside in the eastern Himalayas at elevations of 5,000-13,000 feet! Red pandas are equipped with sharp, semi-retractable claws, and ankles that rotate 180 degrees for climbing up and down trees; they are perfectly suited for arboreal life.
Red pandas, although considered part of the carnivore order, eat mainly bamboo. Unlike the giant panda, red pandas will never eat the culm (or stalk) of the bamboo. They only eat the leaves and shoots. Bamboo accounts for 98% of the red panda’s diet. It is important to their well-being and overall health that their nutritional needs are met.
This highly specialized diet is one of the reasons it is important to keep these animals out of the illegal pet trade. There are many reasons that red pandas do not make good pets, but without proper care and nutrition, they get sick. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 and as few as 2,500 red pandas in the wild. Their status is endangered.
Contributing to conservation of the red panda is as easy as being an ecotourist, sharing information about red pandas, and even visiting the ambassadors of their species at accredited zoos.
(photo: Robbie Frazier)
Keeper I, Mammals