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Red Pandas ~ A Fascinating Species That Looks Similar To Raccoons

Updated on August 22, 2013

They Are SO Adorable!

Awwww!  So cute, but they are wild animals and I'm sure they have a potential to be dangerous.
Awwww! So cute, but they are wild animals and I'm sure they have a potential to be dangerous. | Source
This was a photo taken at the Nashville Zoo. Red Pandas do well in zoo settings.
This was a photo taken at the Nashville Zoo. Red Pandas do well in zoo settings. | Source
A red panda at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
A red panda at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. | Source

The Species Is Now Listed As Vulnerable

Now listed as vulnerable to the possibility of extinction on worldwide extinction lists, the Red Panda is a beautiful animal with very distinctive markings. Their most prominent features are red and white faces, dark paws and dark fur on the lower part of their bodies, and beautiful dark red and light red ringed tails that make them stand out uniquely from all other animals.

Prized in China since ancient times, their tails are used to make fur hats that are sometimes used in weddings there. Being a bit superstitious, the Chinese people thought that the tails of Red Pandas would bring good luck to the couple if they feature the fur taken from them in their wedding. In fact, the Red Panda's biggest threat to extinction right now is poaching by people who wish to use them for their fur.

They are not considered to be bears like Giant Panda's, which are found mostly in China. Although they DO share one trait in common with the Giant Panda... a good portion of their diet consists of bamboo shoots and leaves. Giant Pandas have become so popular, especially in zoos, in recent years. And like the Giant Panda, Red Pandas tend to do well in zoo settings. They are currently found in about 350 zoos worldwide.

Red Panda's are considered to be closer in their genetic makeup to raccoons and to skunks. They have also been compared in some ways to domesticated house cats. One look at their claws and the way they can retract them just like cats do brings about thoughts of their similarity to cats.

Their sheer cuteness, the innocence in their very expressive faces, and the fact that they have a very calm and laid back demeanor put them in even more danger. They have a curiosity and playfulness similar to that of kittens. This cuteness is one factor that contributes to their listing as endangered animals.

They are found mostly in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, in just a small area of the world. They need to have a moderate climate, rainy and on the cool side, to really thrive. This is what they find near the mountains. They don't do as well in extremely hot conditions or in extremely cold conditions, although with as much fur as they have, they can tolerate cold weather much better than they can tolerate heat.

Red Panda's are also found in the areas of the jungle surrounding Darjeeling, India, which is best known for the exceptional teas that are produced there. Other natural habitats are found in central China, and in the mountains of Nepal as well as in northern Myanmar (Burma).

Even though these places are all natural habitats for the Red Panda, one still has their best chance of actually seeing one of these beautiful creatures in person in a zoo. They tend to be mostly nocturnal, although they do sometimes come out in the early morning or in the early evening.

According to some conservationists, it is believed that there are only about 10,000 Red Panda's left in the world. Efforts to have them bred in zoos have been met with some success. Red Panda's traditionally are solitary animals until it is breeding season. They breed briefly, then the female raises the offspring for about a year.

Usually Red Panda's are born in sets of twins or triplets, although one can be born singly. Sometimes people have even encountered four born at one time. The mother produces milk for the very young Red Panda. This is another feature that qualifies them as mammals. She feeds them milk exclusively for about four months. Then they are introduced to other foods.

The Red Panda eats mostly bamboo and other vegetation, although occasionally their diet will also include roots, leaves, fruit, acorns and even eggs. It takes about four pounds a DAY of bamboo to feed one of these little cuties. The grow to about the size of a large house cat, anywhere from 14 to 20 pounds, and about the length of a house cat, up to about 2 feet long. Their tails, however, can easily add another 18 inches to their length.

One of the biggest threats to the Red Panda today is poaching and killing them for their fur. But other factors that threaten their survival include destruction of their natural habitat areas, due to building and clearing land for development. Clearing out trees has been very detrimental to their population.

A Must Have Accessory And Even A Cartoon Character!

Red Pandas have a reputation of being so friendly and cute that in the Victorian days, back in the early 1800's, women felt that Red Pandas were a "must have" fashion accessory. Much like a house cat, women had to have these cute little furry "pets" by their side to keep them company in their homes. Cute little Red Pandas were companions and were treated like pets by many of these women in the Victorian Age.

Red Pandas have also been featured in popular advertising, in video games and in movies. The movie "Kung Fu Panda" is based on a Red Panda as its leading character. The character's name in that movie was Master Shifu, and his voice was created by Dustin Hoffman.

They are so famous, they have even been featured on beer bottles, certainly not a small feat. And they are the famous mascot animal used by a popular web browser known as Mozilla Firefox. In fact, "Firefox" is one of the most popular nicknames for the Red Panda.

Red Panda's are really known by the name of Ailurus Fulgers, Ailuridae or "fire-colored cat."

One Of The Cutest Video's EVER! Red Panda's Playing In The Snow

Red Panda's Are Endangered ~ International "Red Panda Day" Is Held The Third September Of Every Year!

A newly created "Red Panda Day" began in 2010, and has been very successful. Hopes are to hold a "National Red Panda Day" on the third September of every year. Raising awareness of the plight of the existing Red Pandas is the primary focus of National Red Panda Day.

Children work with zoos and hold fund-raisers to raise money for the conservation of Red Panda's. The money raised goes towards the building of a new conservation center in Nepal. They are hoping to have the conservation center built and to have it open it's doors in September of 2013.

Through a program known as the "Red Panda Rangers," kids from all over the United States and other parts of the world work with their local zoos to raise awareness and to raise funds to make the new conservation center in Nepal a reality. The center will be dedicated to education about the Red Panda, and awareness of their plight, which in turn is hoped to help to teach people ways to help to conserve the beautiful Red Panda for future generations.

It is estimated that there are currently over 5,000 Red Panda Rangers. These groups are located in at least five states in the United States.

The new conservation center will be located on the route to the popular Hindu shrine and well-known pilgrimage site on a mountain peak in northeastern Nepal, in the Taplejung district there.

If kids are interested in becoming a Red Panda Ranger, it is recommended that they contact their local zoo to see if there is a program they can join there. Programs are supported by the Red Panda Network, a network set up to educate people about the plight of the beautiful Red Panda, and to help to organize and empower communities to help in keeping the beautiful Red Panda from becoming extinct.

More information can be found at the link below ~ Helping to save these beautiful creatures is a noble and valiant effort and one that will be appreciated by future generations that will get to enjoy the absolute cuteness of these adorable creatures!

Rusty The Red Panda Captured Safely!

Rusty The Red Panda Escapes From The National Zoo In Washington D.C.!

In June of 2013, a Red Panda named Rusty escaped from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. He was found and brought back to the zoo, thanks in part to social media. People who saw Rusty in their neighborhood began to tweet pictures of him. This was helpful to officials who were able to capture him in Adams Morgan, about a mile from the National Zoo.

Rusty was only missing for about a day. He received veterinary attention after his adventure to be sure he hadn't eaten anything during his day out of the zoo that could possibly harm him. The Red Panda exhibit has become very popular due to all the news coverage about Rusty the Red Panda. Kids of all ages have enjoyed visiting the exhibit and learning about Red Pandas.

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    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thank you for your nice comment! I hope they enjoy long lives, too!

    • profile image

      i want thim to live they are butiful 2 years ago

      They are cute and endangered I hope they live for millions of years

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      You are so right, Ann... with new synthetics that look and feel SO real, there is no need for this senseless destruction of life any more. (I guess you can tell how I feel about the subject, too!) :) Thanks for your nice words and for the up vote, I appreciate it!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      What adorable animals! They do remind me a lot of cats. Thanks for sharing this and raising awareness. I think it's just wrong to destroy these animals for a stupid fur coat - all furs can be made synthetically now, anyway. And then to do it until an animal is endangered is just beyond crazy.

      Well done and voted up.

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thanks so much, Kris! Glad you enjoyed this! :)

      And thanks to you too, sgbrown. Isn't that video just adorable? I wanted to take one of these home after watching it! LOL!! Thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated! :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Red Pandas are so cute, it is such a shame that they are on the vulnerable status list. They are adorable and such interesting characteristics. I loved the video! Very good hub, I really enjoyed it! Voted up and interesting. :)

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      I also agree these are very cute! Thanks for sharing this information about them. I don't recall ever seeing them in a zoo around here before!

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      They really are cute, and I hope they increase, too. Thanks so much, Jackie! :) I appreciate you reading and commenting. :)

      And thank you too, deepak2u! :) I appreciate that!

    • deepak2u profile image

      Govind Deepak Kumar 5 years ago from Andhra Pradesh,INDIA

      its excellent article !

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      These are so cute, I hope they increase. Thanks for a fascinating hub.

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thank you Dianna! :) I've seen them in zoo's too. But like you, I didn't know they were on the endangered list. They are so pretty, and when they play they look just like kittens, so cute! Thanks for reading and for your nice comment! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I didn't know they were endangered. Too bad, they are so pretty. I have seen these at the Cincinnati Zoo and the color on these creatures is quite vivid. Good post and very informative.

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      You're welcome Lauramaryscott! So glad you enjoyed this! :) Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment! :)

      Thanks Kashmir56. I thought they were so adorable and interesting I just had to share! :) Thank you for your kind comment! :)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great and interesting hub about these very beautiful creatures, a lot of this information i did not know before. Thanks for helping me learn more about the Red Pandas .

    • lauramaryscott profile image

      lauramaryscott 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      KathyH, another wonderful hub, Kathy. It is nice to know the Firefox symbol is not a fox. I enjoyed the video as well. Thanks for informing us of this endangered cutie.

    • KathyH profile image
      Author

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thank you Faith! I didn't know about these beautiful creatures until recently either! :) I think they are beautiful and soooo sweet! :) Once I watched the video, I was hooked! : ) Thanks so much for your nice comment!

      You're so welcome, arbitrarycurls! So glad you found this interesting. I didn't know about these groups trying to help them either! I think that's a wonderful thing. Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment! :)

    • arbitrarycurls profile image

      5 years ago from Southern, CA

      I'm familiar with red pandas, but didn't know they were near extinction. It always saddens me when a species is facing extinction, but especially when it's by means that can be avoided. I don't understand that kind of selfishness. Thank you for the hub and the information of how to fight their extinction.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Amazing creatures!!! I have never seen such before or knew of such existing. They are beautiful and so unique. Awesome hub and very interesting. In His Love, Faith Reaper