If you have read any of my previous posts, you may have gotten the hint that I despise the cold weather. So it just figures that one of the only days out of the whole year that I can get together with my two best zoo friends to walk around a zoo, it is the coldest day of the whole year. We romped around The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium with a -8 degree wind chill; ladies and gentlemen that is what I call dedication. One of the only active animals was the Red Pandas. So today, we are talking Red Pandas!
Red pandas mostly live in Nepal and China. These adorable guys are typically solitary in the wild, as they continually look for tender bamboo shoots to munch on. Unlike the Giant Panda, Red Pandas will eat other foods such as insects and fruit when it is available. Due to the amount of indigestible fiber in bamboo, red pandas only extract ¼ of the nutrients they need which can cause them to lose 15% of their body weight in the winter. Young red pandas grow very slowly and will stay with their mother for a year or more until they reach maturity. Due to their long gestation period (~135 days) and how long young live with the mother, populations are slow to recover from any drastic disturbance.
Just like many other animals on planet Earth, Red Pandas are being affected by deforestation. Logging has disrupted the delicate balance of the rich mountain soil with the climate. More and more zoos in the United States are standing up and helping sustain a healthy captive population of red pandas (just like the young ones pictured from The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium). However, to help them in the wild go check out The Red Panda Network:
They work with the local communities to help them help the environment around them, which helps the Red Pandas! Make sure you check out if your local zoo has these adorable little guys!