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Red Panda

Ailurus fulgens

Red Panda at Henry Vilas Zoo

About Red Panda

Red pandas are the only living member of their taxonomic family. While their scientific name, Ailurus fulgens, means “fire cat,” they share more similarities with raccoons and bears. Like giant pandas, red pandas are bamboo eaters and are native to Asia’s high forests.

At Henry Vilas Zoo we’re taking action for wild red pandas by partnering with the Red Panda Network. Learn about the network and their conservation efforts here.



Red pandas are found in the Himalayas and mountainous regions of northern Myanmar, and the western Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in China. They live in temperate climates in forests with thick bamboo.


85 – 95% of their diet consists of bamboo, but they also eat roots, fruits, small lizards, and bird eggs.

Family Life

Red pandas are largely solitary, but occasionally come together in small groups and play with each other. Females are only fertile for a few days, and undergo delayed implantation: the fertilized eggs don’t implant or develop right away. Females build birthing dens in hollow trees, stumps, or rock crevices. Litters typically consist of two cubs, though a female may have one to four. Cubs stay with their mother until they are one year old.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Red Panda's conservation status is classified as endangered.
Endangered graphic


  • Red pandas face a number of threats, including habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, and human encroachment as well as hunting for fur, meat, and pet trade.
  • Habitat fragmentation makes it difficult for populations to reach each other and interbreed, causing a reduction in genetic diversity.

Facts about Red Panda

  • Class:
    Mammalia (mammals)
  • Order:
    Carnivora (carnivores)
  • Family:
    Ailuridae (red panda)
  • Genus:
    Ailurus (red panda)
  • Species:
    Ailurus fulgens (red panda)
  • Life Span:
    8 – 10 years (wild) / 15 – 23 years (zoo)
  • Size:
    19 – 25 inches (50 – 64 cm)
  • Weight:
    6 – 13.5 pounds (3 – 6 kg)
  • Tail Length:
    11 – 20 inches (28 – 50 cm)

Fun Facts

  • Bamboo is very poor in nutrients, so red pandas are only active about 56% of the day and have an extremely slow metabolism.
  • Red pandas have a modified wrist bone that acts as a sixth finger to help them grasp bamboo.
  • They eat 20-30% of their body weight each day.
  • Their habitat is home to about 40 species of bamboo, but they only pick one or two of the most nutritious species to eat.

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