Red pandas resemble raccoons with a red coat, long tail, and white spots on their cheeks, mouth, and ears. An arboreal species, they spend most of their time in the branches, where they eat bamboo shoots, bamboo leaves, berries, flowers, and the occasional egg or insect. Bamboo makes up the bulk of their diet, but because the omnivores can’t fully digest bamboo fiber, red pandas spend a large part of their day foraging for necessary nutrients. Red pandas are a largely solitary animal. Males and females define separate territories via scent marking, coming together only for breeding. Females rear young alone, giving birth in leaf-lined tree cavities and leaving the cubs while foraging for food. After a year of care, mother and offspring go their separate ways, each pursuing a life of solitude among the trees.
Interesting Fact 1
Red pandas are not related to cats, racoons, or pandas. According to DNA testing, they are the only living member of the taxonomic family Ailuridae.
Interesting Fact 2
Red pandas spend most of their time in trees. Special adaptations in their wrists and ankles help them grasp branches and climb head first down tree trunks.
Interesting Fact 3
They use a “panda’s thumb”— an extension of the wrist bone—to grasp fruit and branches.
Caring for Carnivores
Pepper Family Wildlife Center, Lincoln Park Zoo’s new home for African lions and other carnivores, is coming soon! The renovation of this state-of-the-art space, guided by years of behavioral data, includes habitat features that promote positive animal welfare.
Commitment to Care
Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.
Support Your Zoo
Animals Depend On People Too
When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.
The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.
Take Action With Us
Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.