Red panda

Latin Name
Ailurus fulgens




Raccoonlike in appearance, with a red coat, long tail and white spots on the cheeks, mouth and ears, the red panda is actually unrelated to its fellow tree dwellers. DNA testing has resulted in the species being placed in its own unique family.



The red panda can be found throughout the Himalayan mountain range in China, Nepal, India, Burma and Bhutan.


The red panda is endangered in its native range due to habitat loss and poaching. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


The species inhabits elevated bamboo and evergreen forests ranging from 4,000–10,000 feet.


An arboreal species, the red panda spends most of its time in the branches, where it subsists on bamboo shoots and leaves, berries, flowers and the occasional egg or insect. Bamboo makes up the bulk of its diet, but because the omnivore can’t fully digest bamboo fiber, a large part of its day has to be spent foraging to ensure it gets its necessary nutrients.

Life History

The red panda is largely a solitary animal. Males and females define separate territories via scent marking, coming together only for breeding. The female rears the young on her own, giving birth in leaf-lined tree cavities and leaving her cubs as she forages for food. After a year of care, mother and offspring go their separate ways, each pursuing a life of solitude among the trees.

Special Adaptations

The red panda uses a “panda's thumb”— an extension of the wrist bone—to grasp fruit and branches.

Bonus Content

Let the Play Begin
Visitors can expect to see different behaviors from the male and female red pandas as they gear up for breeding season.

ARKive Media

ARKive video - Red panda - overviewARKive image - Red panda infantARKive image - Red panda carrying cub, captive

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