All pandas are black and white aren’t they?
The 15th of September 2018 marks International Red Panda day. These furry rust-coloured creatures are often out shadowed by their black and white cousins, the giant pandas. They are related to the raccoon, which accounts for their big bushy ringed tails. Although related, they are a family on their own, Ailuridae, as there has been no discovery of any other relatives other than ancestors that lived about 3 to 4 million years ago.
A funny thing to note is that the red panda was named “panda” about 48 years before the giant panda was! Their Latin name is Ailurus fulgens, which refers to their fire-colour body. They are also known as the bear-cat, fire fox or shining cat. It is believed that “panda” originates from the Nepalese name for these animals – nigalya ponya – or bamboo-footed.
Like the giant pandas, red pandas have been facing threats to their survival for a long time. They are currently considered endangered on the IUCN Red List and their numbers are continuing to decrease. The red pandas share some of the giant panda’s habitat up in high-altitude forests but are spread along a wider range covering Nepal, Myanmar and China.
They, like the giant pandas, are losing their habitat due to logging of forests for agriculture. They also suffer from illegal poaching. 70 red panda hides were confiscated in Nepal in 2015. There is only an estimated 10,000 left in the wild.
The Singapore Zoo currently is home to both the red and giant pandas in their River Safari exhibit. You can commemorate International Red Panda day by buying some bamboo in a pledge to save our furry friends here: https://pandas.riversafari.com.sg/panda-pledge-2.html
The World Wildlife Fund or WWF also allows you to adopt a panda gifts.worldwildlife.org and give little red panda soft toys away as presents to remind your friends to do their part as well.