5 Things You Want to Know About Red Pandas…

Red Pandas have recently been vaulted into the spotlight by YouTube videos of their antics, and they surely do look adorable! But, do they make a good pet? Here’s some info you need before deciding that you HAVE to have one in your home!

  1. Red Pandas have an incredibly specialized diet: young leaves from bamboo plants. They spend around 13 hours every day eating (in the wild) because there is so little actual nutrition in these leaves, and in the winter they may lose close to 15 percent of their body weight.

2. They can escape the most carefully constructed enclosure you can build! Red Pandas have escaped from the Smithsonian National Zoo in 2013, as well as zoos in London, Birmingham, Rotterdam and Dresden. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums actually state “beware: Red Pandas are escape artists”.

3. They have a thumb! Actually, it’s a “false” thumb, and is actually an extended bone from their wrist, but it functions just like a real thumb. This is one of the reasons that they’re so good at escaping. Giant Pandas have the same sort of false thumb, but it evolved specifically to help get bamboo to eat. The Red Panda’s thumb evolved to help it climb trees.

4. The Firefox browser is named for the Red Panda! Firefox is another name for this adorable creature, and Mozilla adopted two baby Reds born in the Knoxville (Tennessee) Zoo in 2010 in honor of the connection.

5. Red Pandas were discovered by Europeans in 1820, 40 years before the “Giant Panda”, and the word Panda is thought to be derived from a Nepali word, “ponya”, which translates to bamboo eating animal. The Nepali people call it “bhalu biralo”, and Sherpas call it “wah donka” or “ye niglva ponva”. Thomas Hardwicke made the first presentation in Europe about the Red Panda, and he called it a “Wha”, which he felt described its loud call. But, he didn’t publish his paper for six years, and lost the naming rights to Frederic Cuvier.

Red Pandas ARE endangered, and estimates of their present population are from 2014. That year, there were 1,864 wild Reds in China. It’s taken 30 years for the IUCN to change the status from Endangered to Threatened, and last year Red Pandas were photographed in Western Nepal. The biggest threat to their continued existence in the wild is habitat fragmentation, followed closely by the illegal trade in wild animals for pets and parts (I know, gross!).

Check out the Red Panda Network at http://www.redpandanetwork.com and see if you can help Red Pandas survive into the next century!

If you want to learn more about Red Pandas, but don’t have a lot of reading time, look for My Red Panda Journal at https://amzn.to/2X0qYKr . It’s great for you to record your thoughts about Red Pandas, life, gratitude and mindfulness and learn a bit about the wild world we call Nature!

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