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WHAT IS THE RED PANDA?


The red panda or Ailurus fulgens is a smaller relative of the giant panda. Many zoologists debate weather the red pandas are more closely related to the raccoon family or to the bear family, but many experts think they belong to a family of their own. The red panda is slightly larger than a large housecat, has rusty red fur, a long light and dark striped tail, a short white nose, and dark tear tracks. It is crepuscular which means it is active around dawn and dusk and is very good at climbing and spends much of its time in trees.



Red pandas are called by many names including lesser panda, hun-ho, wah, and red cat bear. Besides your local zoo the red panda in nature is often found in the bamboo forests of Nepal, Burma, Bhutan, Tibet and Yunnan provinces in western China. The red panda feeds mostly on bamboo leaves just like it's larger cousin the great panda bear. They are also known to feed on berries, mushrooms, bark, bird eggs, acorns, lichens and mice. If you visit them in the zoo you will learn that there they are fed bamboo biscuits.














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These animals are far more plentiful then the giant panda and they are better able to reproduce in captivity and in the wild. Their natural habitat is currently being threatened and it is unlikely they will survive in the wild if their specialized diet of mostly bamboo leaves is threatened. Their mating season is from January to March. Males fight over the right to mate with females during her fourteen day breeding condition. Once the mating occurs the gestation period is 90-150 days, with births occurring in May and June. Before giving birth the female lines a tree cavity or rock cleft with grass. Between 1 and 4 cubs are born. They are blind but fully covered with hair. Their eyes are open on the 18th day and they leave the nest for the first time at 90 days. They become sexually mature at 18 months. Infant mortality is very high just like the giant panda. The Red Pandas' predator is the Snow leopard and yellow-necked martens often take cubs in the nest.

 

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