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Taxonomy (SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Carnivora (Carnivores)
FAMILY: Ailuridae (A family that consists of the Red Panda and its extinct relatives)
GENUS/Species: Ailurus fulgens
LIFE SPAN: Red Pandas can live to be 23 years old in the wild
HABITAT: Red Pandas live high up in the Eastern Himalaya Mountains in places like China, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), India, and Bhutan. These animals mostly reside in cool, temperate forests that feature an underbrush dominated by thick bamboo. Red Pandas prefer habitats that contain ample fallen logs, tree stumps, and fresh water. These animals spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep high above the ground.
DIET: Red Pandas primarily eat bamboo leaves and shoots, acorns, and flowers. On occasion, they will snack on fruit, insects, bird eggs and even small lizards. When foraging, Red Pandas are most active at night, as well as in the twilight and at dawn.
A male Red Panda is called a male Red Panda (no special term exists)
A female Red Panda is called a female Red Panda (no special term exists)
A young Red Panda is called a cub
There is no term for a group of Red Pandas as they are solitary animals who typically live alone except when a mother is caring for her cubs
Red Pandas are about the size of a domestic cat- making them much smaller than the famous giant pandas!
Red Pandas are not closely related to the Giant Panda with whom they share a name. The name “panda” was actually applied to these small red animals approximately 48 years before the larger black-and-white bears were even cataloged!
Red Pandas have proven to be a species that is difficult to properly classify! According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, they were originally classified as relatives of raccoons in the Procyonidae family due to physical similarities (head, teeth and ringed tail). Later, they were classified as bears in the Ursidae family because of some DNA similarities. But recent genetic research now places Red Pandas in their own family- Ailuridae. They have no living relatives, and their nearest fossil ancestors lived 3 million to 4 million years ago!
Red Pandas are also called “lesser pandas”, “cat-bears”, “bear-cats”, “Himalayan raccoons”, “fox bears” and “firefoxes”.
Red Pandas depend on their long, bushy tails for balance while they are climbing through trees. They also wrap it around themselves to help keep warm during the cold winter months.
The reddish-orange tint of the Red Panda's coat serves as a form of camouflage that helps these animals hide from predators like snow leopards by disappearing into the branches of fir trees that are usually covered with reddish-brown moss.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the conservation status of Red Pandas is as follows:
Red Pandas are Endangered, which means that they are at a risk of becoming extinct in the wild.
The IUCN states that the major threats to the existence of Red Pandas are the loss, fragmentation, and degradation of this animal’s habitats. Additional threats faced by Red Pandas are the growth of the human population in this animal’s lands, climate change, and natural disasters such as cyclones, landslides, and floods. The existence of Red Pandas is also adversely impacted by poaching, the illegal sales of these animals as pets, and the unlawful commerce of Red Panda body parts such as skins.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP RED PANDAS?
Educate yourself about Red Pandas and their circumstances by reviewing the materials presented below in the Resources section and other materials you may be able to find on your own.
Post messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and send emails to your family and friends expressing your concern for the plight of the Red Pandas and encouraging them to become involved as well.
Write letters to your elected officials in Washington DC, to leaders in nations where Red Pandas live, and to leaders in non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) that work in the fields of wildlife conservation and wildlife management explaining why the conservation of Red Pandas is important to you and encouraging these officials to work to help keep Red Pandas from ever becoming extinct in the wild.
Help to improve the environment around you and around the world by working to reduce, recycle, and reuse. This will help eliminate waste and will greatly improve the world in which we all live.
And when you shop at Joe’s Cowtown Photos, you can designate Red Panda-centric programs and initiatives such as the World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Red Panda Program, The Red Panda Network, and the Red Panda Trust as the beneficiary of the charitable portion of your purchase. (For more information on Joe’s Cowtown Photos charitable giving program, Cowtown Photos Cares!, click here.)
Live Science: Facts About Red Pandas
National Geographic.com: Red Pandas
World Wildlife Fund: Where Do Red Pandas Live? And Other Red Panda Facts
Scientific American’s The Thoughtful Animal: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Red Pandas
Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute: Red Panda
Top 10 Reasons to Save the Red Panda
The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species Red Panda page
The World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Red Panda Program
The United States House of Representatives Page
The information provided in this Animal Info page was compiled by Joe Hoffman (St. Pius X Elementary School Class of 1986 and Founder/Owner of Joe’s Cowtown Photos) and was proof-read and edited by Anita Striegel (Retired 8th Grade Teacher from St. Pius X Elementary School- Joe’s former teacher!)
To access the Animal Info main page, click here!