More Than a Cute Face
Red pandas are more than just a cute face! They’re a unique species with their very own family classification and are even referred to as the “first panda” since Western scientists first described them 50 years before giant pandas.
Red pandas aren’t actually pandas at all. In the past they’ve been classified in the raccoon family as well as the bear family, but now they’re in their own family – Ailuridae. They are, however, still part of superfamily Musteloidea which includes weasels, otters, and badgers.
In the wild, red pandas have a large range that extends from western Nepal to northern Myanmar. They can also be found throughout mountainous areas of southwestern China (Yunnan, Sichuan and Xizang provinces) at elevations between 4,900 and 13,000 feet. Even though red pandas can be found across large areas of land, their range is very restricted to places where bamboo (the main part of their diet) is plentiful.
Protecting red pandas goes hand in hand with protecting their habitat. Logging and other forms of forest degradation have destroyed acres upon acres of viable red panda habitat. Red pandas are also slow to mature and breed. Females are pregnant for around 135 days – that’s a long time for a small mammal! They also usually only have one to two cubs at a time and they will stay with their mother for a year, sometimes more.
To learn even more about red pandas, be sure to join us on Saturday, September 19 as we celebrate these amazing animals! There will be keeper chats, story time, fun activities, and discovery stations. Free with admission.
Visit the Red Panda Network for conservation news and updates, information on current field research being conducted, fun activities for kids, and more.