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Spark: Female, born on June 14,2010 at Knoxville Zoological Gardens in Tennessee. She arrived in Philadelphia on December 5, 2013.
Khumbie: Male, born on June 15, 2014 at the Erie Zoological Gardens. He arrived at Philadelphia Zoo on November 23, 2015.
Benjamin: Male, born at Philadelphia Zoo on June 26, 2015. Spark is Benjamin’s dam (mother).
Mei Lin: Female, born on June 26, 2002 at the Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota. She arrived at Philadelphia Zoo on July 26, 2011, from the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, NY.
Mei Lin is a little stockier and darker in color than Spark, Khumbie, and Benjamin because they are different subspecies. Spark, Khumbie, and Benjamin are Ailurus fulgens fulgens, while Mei Lin is Ailurus fulgens refulgens (styani).
The red panda coat is soft, dense and long with a thick under-fur. Their face is light with dark markings. Rust-red stripes beneath each eye separate their white snout from their white cheeks. Their ears are large, upright, pointed and tapered with a white spot on the inside. Red pandas have a long, bushy, reddish-brown tail with distinctly separate pale reddish rings which they use to cover their face and keep their noses warm in the cold.
For tree climbing, the red panda is equipped with razor-sharp claws that are semi-retractable. The soles of their feet are protected with wooly hair that helps to reduce heat loss and the danger of slipping on wet branches. The red panda's large mouth has 38 teeth and powerful jaws used for crushing one of their favorite foods--bamboo. A bone on the inner side of their wrist acts as a "false thumb," and helps them handle bamboo leaves and poles.
They live on forested steep mountain slopes covered with giant rhododendron, oak and bamboo at altitudes of 5,000-13,000 feet.
In the wild and in zoos, red pandas can live up to 14 years.
The red panda has an average of two offspring born between mid-May and July. They usually build their nests in hollow trees or rock crevices. Cubs are born with all of their fur but are blind and helpless. In two to four weeks, their eyes open.
In order to produce enough milk for their young, the mother has to consume 3 times the normal quantity of her low-nutrient bamboo diet. Red pandas are weaned and ready to start eating tender bamboo leaves when they're about five months old. The young stay with their mother for up to one year.
Unless they are provoked, red pandas are usually solitary, shy and quiet. They communicate with each other by shrill cries, repeated whistles, peeping, or bird-like chirping. When they feel threatened, they'll withdraw into rock crevices or trees.
Red pandas are crepuscular and nocturnal. They sleep during the day in shady branches or tree hollows.
A part of the daily activity of the red panda includes grooming. They'll lick the soles of their feet and rub them across their forehead and ears. Grooming takes place primarily after waking or feeding.
Red pandas live in holes in trees and rest in trees. They feed on the ground and can leap as far as four feet. They move very fast and are good, agile climbers.
In cold weather, they rest with their bodies tightly rolled up lying coiled on their side with their head hidden between their hind legs. In warm weather, they stretch out on a branch with limbs hanging down.
Red pandas are small with an overall length of three to three-and-one-half feet.
They weigh approximately 10 to 12 pounds.
Red pandas are mainly vegetarians and will forage on the ground and in trees. In the wild, they eat fruit, roots, bamboo shoots, acorns, berries and lichens and--at times--insects, mice, birds and bird eggs. The red panda often will sit upright to eat and feed like a squirrel. At the Zoo, they are fed a diet of bamboo leaves and formulated pellets, like dog kibble. They also enjoy apples and bananas as treats.
The red (or western lesser) panda's native habitat is in Asia from Nepal into Southwest China.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the red panda is listed as Vulnerable.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
Red pandas live in very narrow bands of mixed bamboo forest habitat on the sides of mountain slopes in the Himalayas. Their restricted habitat makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change, as warming temperatures push them higher and higher into the mountains where it is cooler and where their main food, bamboo, can thrive. However, the speed at which climate change is occurring may mean red pandas run out of room before they have time to adapt, and scientists are very concerned that their small population (10,000 animals) will further shrink.
Save energy to save wildlife! Your everyday actions to save energy can help slow global changes in climate and may buy red pandas some time to adapt. Reduce your energy use by turning off lights, TVs, computers, and appliances when you leave a room; then make an even greater impact by stopping your junk mail.
In addition to the energy it takes to print and send junk mail, the annual production of approximately 20 billion catalogs for U.S. households alone requires 8 million trees a year. Forests not only provide habitat for wildlife, they also provide clean air for everyone and help keep the planet cool by absorbing carbon. Stop Your Junk Mail to save red pandas!
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