International Red Panda Day - History, Significance, Objective

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 3, 2022, 13:50

Red pandas were discovered almost 50 years before the more famous black and white panda. However, the species' population declined by nearly 50% in the last two decades and is now the only surviving species of the Ailuridae family. The two-family species, Himalayan Red Panda and Chinese Red Panda are primarily found in the Eastern Himalayan region and southwestern China. Due to habitat loss and illegal poaching, the number of red pandas has drastically reduced. It is believed that there are only 2,500 to 10,000 red pandas surviving today, giving them the endangered status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. They are legally protected in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar.

The first International Red Panda Day was celebrated on September 18, 2010, by the Red Panda Network to spread public awareness and garner support for the conversation of red pandas. Since then, International Red Panda Day (IRPD) has been celebrated every year on the third Saturday of September worldwide. Through this day, people are encouraged to visit zoos to learn more about red panda, donate to the cause, adopt a panda, and raise awareness about the cause in any way they can.

Facts about Red Pandas

  • Also known as red bearcat or lesser panda, red pandas are unrelated to bears or giant pandas. Instead, they are genetically more like raccoons and skunks.
  • Red Pandas have a life span of approximately 23 years. Female pandas can reproduce up to the age of 12 years.
  • They are tiny creatures and weigh about 5-9 kgs. An adult red panda can grow up to a size of a house cat, but their long bushy tails make them appear more prominent than cats.
  • Although the species is classified as a carnivore, they mostly eat bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Eggs, birds, and insects are also supplementary to their diet.
  • Red pandas sleep more than half of the day. They like to come out in the mornings to look for food and sleep throughout the day. They also like to forage for food through the night.
  • Red Pandas communicate with each other through head bobbing and tail arching.
  • Red pandas are solitary creatures. Other than for breeding, they don't usually interact with other pandas. They like to stay alone atop trees and hidden from everyday sight.
  • They use their extended wrist bone like a thumb to climb trees deftly.
  • They have a strong affinity toward snow. They can be spotted during snow and harsh winters. Their rust-coloured fur makes them stand out against the white backdrop of snow.
  • Although red pandas look very cute, they are not considered ideal to be kept as pets because of their solitary nature. But despite this, they are traded illegally as pets endangering their lives in the new and unfamiliar habitat.

Red panda network, headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, is a non-profit organization that has been actively working to protect red pandas. They work with local groups to establish wildlife corridors for the safe passage of wild animals like red pandas. They train “forest guardians” to create awareness and empathy for the red panda and work with villagers to build protected areas for wildlife. Red Panda Network encourages donating and fundraising for the cause, spreading awareness through ecotourism, and building positive influence through social media campaigns.

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FAQs on International Red Panda Day

Q.1) What is the scientific name of the red panda?

Red Panda belongs to the Ailuridae family. Himalayan Red Panda is Ailurus fulgens, and Chinese Red Panda is Ailurus fulgens styani.

Q.2) Where are Red Pandas found?

Red Pandas are found in the Eastern Himalayan region and southwest China.

Q.3) What is the life span of a red panda?

Red Pandas live up to the age of 23 years.

Q.4) When was International Red Panda Day (IRPD) celebrated in 2021?

The 12th International Red Panda Day (IRPD) was celebrated on September 18, 2021.

Q.5) What are the biggest threats to the red panda species?

Illegal poaching, loss of natural habitat, depression due to inbreeding, and fragmentation are the biggest threats leading red panda species to extinction.