Red panda/red cat-bear

(Ailurus fulgens)

The common name of 'Panda' is derived from the Nepalese 'Nigalya Ponya', which means bamboo eaters. The red panda in particular was discovered in the year 1821 and therefore almost fifty years before the giant panda. Taking just one look at them will explain why the traditional Chinese called them 'fire foxes'.


South Asia (Himalayan region)

Humid valleys of the high mountains with dense undergrowths of bushes and bamboo

Bamboos and fruit, occasionally also food of animal origin

approx. 5,000 to 7,000

51 to 73 cm head-body length (28 to 49 cm tail length)

3 to 6 kg

Brooding/gestation time:
4 to 5 months

Achievable age
In human care, 14 years

What you should know about the red panda

The red panda, also known as the lesser panda, could not be precisely classified for a long time. As a predator, it was previously classified in the red panda family together with the giant panda. However, it's teeth prove that it has adapted to eating a diet of plants for nourishment and has become almost completely vegetarian. Today, giant pandas are classified as large bears and the lesser panda is considered as the only representative of the red panda family.


Lesser panda in great danger

Red-cat bears can only be found in Asia in northern India and in the mountain forests of the Himalayas (Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, northern India and the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan). Unfortunately poaching and deforestation of their habitat has put their numbers sharply in decline. Despite the bans, hunters still flout the regulations and make hats and brushes out of their fur. Of the two subspecies in existence, the Tierpark Berlin is home to the Western lesser panda.


A bear in teddy's fur

It looks so sweet and harmless with its black button eyes, raccoon face and its plush red-ringed tail – yet we don't recommend trying to cuddle the red-cat bear. The sweet 'teddy' is regarded as snappy and may well use it's sharp claws. The skilled climbers also hold the record for escape attempts in so many zoos.


They only cuddle among one another – and then 'Lights out please!' ...

The fact that we humans shouldn't really refer to the lesser pandas as cuddly toys doesn't mean that they are total grouches when it comes to affection. On the contrary. During the mating period, the bashful loners and professed dusk and night animals like nothing better than cuddling together – but they prefer to do so in the dark. If a red-cat bear is in love, they flirt with their chosen one in a 'fragrant' manner.


Is it true, that ...?

The bamboo preferring vegetarians don't always remain strict to their almost pure vegetation diet. If the lesser pandas get access to more than just roots and berries, they will certainly not turn down the chance of supplementing their menu with mice, birds' eggs or young birds every now and again – well, once a predator, always a predator.

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