When is a panda not a panda?
Zookeeper Ray Bamrick says she behaves like a house cat. Despite her appearance, the red panda is not related to cats, raccoons, or foxes.
For that matter, the zookeeper says, “It’s not a panda. It’s been classified with the giant pandas, and classified with raccoons and bears. They’ve kind of settled on their own group. If you look back tens of millions of years, they have common ancestry, but today they’re one of a kind.”
The red pandas' fire-red coats blend with a black underside and white face to provide the perfect camouflage among the fir trees of their natural habitat in the cooler climate of the Himalayan Mountains and in southern China.
They are covered in fur, including all over their paws. Their tails and long nails also provide balance and support. They eat leafy plants, particularly bamboo. But they also eat fruits and berries.
"Our panda loves to play on a jungle gym-like structure that we built especially for her," says Henry Kacprzyk, curator of Kids' Kingdom & Reptiles. "She maneuvers easily on the beams. She is also very curious and sits right in front of the window looking out at anyone who stops by."
Critical thinking challenge: If the red panda is not a panda, why is it called a panda?
- Posted on April 16, 2013