Panda (Red) / Ailurus fulgens

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They were discovered in 1825 and brought to London in 1869

Red pandas communicate with each other by short whistles and squeaks

When alarmed they hiss and spit like cats, but can also growl like bears

Despite their name, red pandas are more closely related to raccoons than giant pandas and have been called a “fire fox” due to their appearance.

Red pandas have long, soft reddish-brown fur on their upper parts, blackish fur on the lower parts, and a light face with tear markings.

The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon, but each individual can have distinctive markings. Their roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes: almost pitch black.

The dense fur serves as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. Their long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red ochre rings provides balance. Their colour provides excellent camouflage against the habitat of moss and lichen covered trees. The legs are black and short with thick fur on the soles of the paws. Their front legs are shorter than the back ones giving it a waddle like walk.

The red panda is a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws, which stand inward for grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves and fruit. They cannot digest cellulose and so they must consume a large volume of bamboo to survive.

Their diet consists of about 65 per cent bamboo, but they also eat mushrooms, fruit, roots, acorns, lichen, and grasses and, occasionally, supplement their diet with fish and insects.

They do little more than eat and sleep due to their low-calorie diet.

Like the giant panda, it has a false thumb that is an extension of the wrist bone that is used to hold and strip bamboo.

When descending a tree headfirst, the red panda rotates its ankle to control its descent, one of the few climbing species to do so.

Red pandas are very shy creatures. They are territorial and adults are solitary except during mating season. Both sexes may mate with more than one partner.

A few days before birth, females begin to collect material, such as brushwood, grass, and leaves, to build a nest, which is normally located in a hollow tree or a rock crevice. Between one and four cubs are born and they are completely grey at birth, developing their red colouring in the nest before making their public debut at around 90 days.