Range: Himalayan Mountains of China, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Laos and Myanmar
Habitat: Cool temperate bamboo forests
Conservation Status: Endangered
Scientific name: Ailurus fulgens
Red pandas mainly eat bamboo and will spend up to 13 hours a day searching for and eating bamboo. The red panda only eats the young, tender shoots and leaves. They will also eat fruit, berries, blossoms, insects, and bird eggs. Occasionally they eat fungi, seeds, acorns, young birds, and small rodents. They have very long, bushy tails that are used for balance while running through the tree tops. They even have fur on the soles of their feet, which helps them stay warm in the high altitudes where they live. It has been decided that red pandas and giant pandas share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Generally, today it is believed that red pandas are linked to raccoons, while giant pandas are more closely linked to bears. Red pandas are crepuscular or most active at dusk and dawn. Their red coat and white mask are great camouflage with the red moss and white lichens that cover tree branches in their native bamboo forest habitat. They communicate using body language and a variety of sounds including a warning whistle. In Chinese, their name is Hun-ho, which means Fire Fox.
The Red Panda is about the size of a raccoon. They are 20 to 26 inches long with their tail an additional 12 to 20 inches and weighs 7 to 14 pounds. Only eat the young, tender shoots and leaves. They will also eat fruit, berries, blossoms, insects, and bird eggs. Occasionally they eat fungi, seeds, acorns, young birds, and small rodents.
Red pandas are endangered mainly due to loss of habitat, but also due to hunting for their fur to make hats. The snow leopard, butted leopard and wild dogs are the red panda’s natural predators. It is believed that there are fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas in the wild. Red pandas have been bred with some reliability in zoos throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. As they decline in the wild, continuing to maintain self-sustaining populations in zoos is a high priority. Zoos hope to hedge against extinction and learn more about the species biology.
Scovill Zoo’s female, Kaydee, was born at the Oklahoma Zoo and came to Scovill Zoo in April 2013. Red pandas are part of a breeding program, a SSP (Species Survival Plan).