Red Panda
Scientific Name
Ailurus fulgens
Central and East Asia
Mountain forests
Estimated Wild Population
Endangered Status Graph - Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Endangered

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Physical Description

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.

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Animal Care staff working with seal

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.

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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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