Red Panda
Scientific Name
Ailurus fulgens
Geographic Range
East Asia and the Himalayas
Young leaves and shoots of bamboo, fruits, roots, acorns, grasses, eggs, and insects
Endangered Status Graph - Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Endangered

More Information

Red pandas are medium-sized animals that weigh up to 20 pounds and get to be 26 inches long without their tails. They have an extended wrist bone, or “pseudo-thumb,” which helps them grasp tree branches and bamboo. Initially, naturalists thought they were related to raccoons, then put them in the bear family, but they are now classified as the only living member of the Ailuridae family. They are indeed related to raccoons, but only distantly.

These mammals spend most of their lives in treetops and are adapted to conserve heat. They can adjust their metabolic rate, curl into a tight ball, and wrap their tail around their body to keep warm. Red pandas are shy and solitary but do come together once a year to mate. They give birth in May through August and have one or two cubs at a time. Offspring leave their mother after a year.

Did You Know?

  • Red pandas were the first animals to be called pandas. Giant pandas were named because people mistakenly believed they were related to red pandas.
  • Bamboo makes up more than 90 percent of their diet.
  • Red pandas are one of only a few animals that can climb down trees headfirst, thanks to unique anatomical features.

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.

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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.

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

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.

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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.

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