Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Red Panda

Red Panda

Ailurus fulgens


Red pandas live in the Himalayan Mountains in bamboo forests, spanning across Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanma. They enjoy the moist cool air at elevations of 7000-15500 feet.

Food Source:

Like there giant panda relative the red panda survives mostly on a diet of bamboo. They must constantly eat in order to maintain their body weight, even eating up to 200,000 bamboo leaves a day.

Intriguing Facts:

They have an incredibly low metabolic rate, similar to that of a sloth. So this animal rests up in the trees for almost 15 hours a day. They spend almost all of their waking time eating. They are solitary creatures, only coming in contact with other red pandas during mating season. Due to habitat loss the red panda is one of the most endangered species on the planet, it is estimated only 2500 individuals remain.

Resent Research:

The current phylogeny of the red panda is debated. Some scientist debate that it is more closely related to the raccoon, while others suggest it is more closely related to the bear. Others still suggest that it should be placed in a family all its own. The research done by the Chinese University of Science seeks to better understand the red pandas elusive phyologeny. They analyzed the: “interchromosomal rearrangements and amplic-cation of repetitive sequences have played a major role in differentiating the karyotypesof the mustelid species.” Their results showed that the red panda is closely related to the mustelids, or weasel family. This is certainly an interesting find and more genomic research is currently being done, fossil analysis must also be done to confirm the phylogeny thoroughly.

General info- http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=19 and http://www.centralparkzoo.com/animals-and-exhibits/animals/mammals/red-panda.aspx

Research- http://www.springerlink.com/content/uvnvj8x37ytcmnkt/


  1. This is a much better picture than the one I took at the zoo! I was surprised to learn that they are so closely related to weasels. Just going by physical looks, I would have guessed bear or maybe even fox (if you look at the head/face).

  2. This is the cutest picture ever! I was bummed that we really couldn't see the panda out when we were at the zoo. Do you know what kind of conservation is being done to help save these adorable little guys?