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Andrea Vandiver's Red Panda Report
Project Name : Andrea Vandiver's Red Panda Report
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Red Panda
When thinking about a panda, generally, the big, fat, black and white, bear comes to mind. Hardly ever does a small, foxlike creature pop into someone's head when thinking of the word "panda". The red panda has an interesting habitat, appearance, adaptations, history, and much more. There seems to be something anyone can find interesting about it no matter what. There is plenty to learn about this red panda that seems nothing like a panda at all.

The red panda's scientific name is Ailurus Fulgens (Salesa, 2006 #1). The red panda's name means "shining-cat" (anonymous 2012 a, #1). Their name is also thought to mean "fire-colored cat" (anonymous, 2012, c, #1). Red pandas are sometimes even called "wah" (anonymous 2012, b, #2). They were given this name due to the sound of their cry (anonymous 2012, b, #2). This adorable animal is also knows as the "fire-fox" (Swyers 2012, #2). This small, catlike animal is classified in the Animalia Kingdom (anonymous 2012, b, #1). They are in the Phylum of Chordata while being in the Class Mammalia, and they are in the Carnivora Order (anonymous 2012 b, #1).  Red pandas are part of the Procyonidae Family, while in the Ailurus Genus (anonymous 2012, b, #1). The red panda's species is Ailurus Fulgens (anonymous 2012, b, #1).  Even though the red panda looks nothing like the giant panda, they are in fact related (Maatta, 2012, #1).

Researchers have found classifying the red panda to be very difficult (anonymous, 2012, c, #4). At first, the red panda was placed in the raccoon family because of their similar physical characteristics such as their skull, ringed tail, and more (anonymous, 2012, c, #5). Similarities in DNA made other researchers believe the red panda should be classified with bears like the giant panda (anonymous, 2012, c, #6). However, most recently it has been an idea to have them placed in their own Family called, "Ailuridae" (anonymous, 2012, c, #7).

The red panda seems to have evolved in Pakistan and Western Europe (anonymous, 2012, c, #2). Fossils have been found in Eastern Europe from 25-5 million years ago (anonymous, 2012, c, #3). In western North America, fossils were found from 5-2 million years ago (anonymous, 2012, c, #3).

While some animals can live in many places, and others can only live in one place, the red panda lives in a few (Delaney, 2012, #2). The red panda can be found in China, Nepal, and Myanmar (Delaney, 2012, #2). It can also be found in the Himalayan Mountains (Maatta, 2012, #5). Generally, they are found in those mountains because of the cool temperature in the forests, which they prefer (Maatta, 2012, #5, anonymous 2012, b, #3). In China, the red panda can be found in the western Sichuan and Yunnan sections (Maatta, 2012, #5). Red pandas tend to stay in the bamboo trees above most of the other animals (Maatta, 2012, #5). Generally, they enjoy being at elevations between 6,000-13,000 feet (anonymous 2012, b, #3).

While the red panda's distant relative, the giant panda, looks like a bear, the red panda looks nothing like a bear at all, and almost looks more like a cat or even a raccoon (Schowalter-Hay, 2011, #1). They have large ears, reddish brown coats along with long, striped, bushy tails (Schowalter-Hay, 2011, #1). This panda also has a warm, thick coat (Maatta, 2012, #9). In comparison to its small size, the red panda has a relatively large jaw with a broad skull (Schowalter-Hay, 2011, #2). Inside of the red panda's large jaw, there are 38 hardy teeth that help with eating bamboo (Schowalter-Hay, 2011, #2). It even has a "thumb", which helps with holding the bamboo stalk, so it can eat the bamboo leaves (Schowalter-Hay, 2011, #4, #5). They are only slightly larger than a house cat, and range from seven to fourteen pounds (Swyer, 2012, #1, and Maatta, 2012, #4). While this panda has four legs, the front two legs are shorter in comparison to the others, resulting in the animal almost waddling when it moves (anonymous 2012 a, #3).

The red panda's food source is mainly bamboo (Delaney, 2012, #2). As for the amount of bamboo they eat, one female red panda can eat up to 200,000 bamboo leaves in one day (Delaney, 2012, #3). The food the red panda consumes, must equal thirty percent of their body weight so they can survive (Delaney, 2012, #5). Amazingly, the red pandas will spend thirteen hours a day just looking for food (Delaney, 2012, #6). While they prefer bamboo leaves, they will also eat bamboo shoots if necessary (Delaney, 2012, #10). Some researchers have even found that red pandas will also eat fruit, berries, nuts, seeds, small rodents, birds, insects, roots, fungi, and even eggs (Delaney, 2012, #10).   Even though red pandas are mainly alone and do not interact with others, they do interact during breeding season (Swyer, 2012, #3). Usually, they breed between January and March, and often they breed with more than one mate (Swyer, 2012, #4).  After sixteen or twenty-two weeks, the female will give birth to between one and four cubs, that weigh between 3.9-4.6 ounces (Swyer, 2012, #4).  

At first, the mother takes care of her cubs nearly all of the time, feeding and grooming them constantly (Swyer, 2012, #5). The father of the cubs hardly ever helps raise them (Swyer, 2012, #6). When the cubs are around eighteen days old, they can open their eyes, and their mother begins only taking care of them every few hours or so, instead of her constant care she provided before (Swyer, 2012, #5). Once the cubs are 90 days old, they begin to look more like adults and even leave the nest to eat solid food (Swyer, 2012, #5). After six to eight months, the cubs can completely take care of themselves, but tend to stay with their mother until she has a new litter to take care of (Swyer, 2012, #5).

While red pandas can reproduce at 18 months, they are not fully matured until they are two or three years old (Swyer, 2012, #6). While the average age red pandas live up to is ten years old, some have lived to be fifteen years old (Swyer, 2012, #6, #7).

As for structural adaptations, the red panda has a "thumb", which is a carpal bone (Salesa, 2006, #1). This "thumb" is used by the red panda to eat (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #5). When eating, the red panda uses its "thumb" to hold a shoot of bamboo while it eats the plant's leaves (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #5). Since red pandas are nocturnal, they need to be able to stay away from predators while they sleep during the day (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #7). Since they have flexible paws, they can go down a tree head first, jump from one branch to the other, and get settled into a crook in a tree to sleep (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #7). Red pandas are also very good climbers due to their sharp claws (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #6, #7). Their large tails even help them with balance (Schowalter-Hay, 2012, #7). The red panda has a very slow metabolism (Delaney, 2012, #5). This is helpful because of how bamboo is a low energy food (Delaney, 2012, #5).

The red panda is an endangered species, and is a part of the world wide conservation (Su, 2001, #1). They have been classified as vulnerable (Swyers, 2012, #9). Red pandas are even listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List of Endangered Species, in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fuana and Flora's Appendix #1, which lists the animals that are the most endangered (Swyers, 2012, #10, #11, #12). In 1996 the red panda was put on the endangered species list, and still remains there today (Maatta, 2012, #6). The red panda is endangered in China too, and are being protected in Nepal (Swyers, 2012, #13). The scientists at the Smithsonian National Zoo have estimated that less than 2,500 adult red pandas are still on Earth (Maatta, 2012, #1). While their population is estimated at less than 2,500, the red panda's population is still on the decline (Swyer, 2012, #13 and Maatta, 2012, #1).

Red Pandas are endangered mainly because they are losing their homes (Maatta, 2012, #1). They are losing their homes due to deforestation (Maatta, 2012, #1 and Swyers, 2012, #2). While this is the main reason the red pandas are dying, they are also being poached and killed in China (Maatta, 2012, #9). The red panda's fur is warm and thick, causing poachers to kill them for their beautiful fur (Maatta, 2012, #9).

As for current research, when a red panda was being transferred from Florida to North Dakota, it passed away a week after it arrived at the zoo (Dyer, 2000, #1). After its death, it was observed that the animal had an inflamed liver, lung, lymph nodes, and spleen. Chromobacterium violaceum was found in the inflamed organs and put into mice (Dyer, 2000, #2).  The mice died 18 hours later (Dyer, 2000, #2). Another red panda in 1998 being transferred from Florida to North Dakota died, and was given to a diagnostic lab in North Dakota six days after its arrival in the state (Dyer, 2000, #4). The panda was found to also have Chromobacterium violaceum (Dyer, 2000, #7). This, once again, was put into mice (Dyer, 2000, #8). Just as before, after 18 hours the mice died (Dyer, 2000, #8). Both of the red pandas had come from Florida, which is known to have Chromobacterium Violaceum (Dyer, 2000, #10). The stress the animals had to go through during their travel is probably what led to their death (Dyer, 2000, #11). While Chromobacterium violaceum is uncommon, it is good that workers in animal and human health are aware of the disease (Dyer, 2000, #12).

A red panda in the United Kingdom was having respiratory problems and weight loss (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #1). The zoo had to put the panda down to end its suffering (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #1). While trying to find out what caused the red panda's problems, a form of larvae was taken off of the lungs (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #1). It was soon found to be Angiostrongylus vasorum (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #1). Another red panda given to the Bristol Zoo Gardens Veterinary Department was found to have the same symptoms (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #2). Where exactly this disease is found is somewhat random, but it is expanding (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #4).  Angiostrongylus vasorum has been found in 13 cases in foxes, 14 cases with dogs, and a few others with more red pandas (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #4). They do not know exactly how the red panda became infected with A. vasorum (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #5). The study shows the need for better health plans for the captive red pandas (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #7).  The study also shows a new disease veterinarians need to be aware of (Patterson-Kane, 2009, #7).

An interesting story about red pandas took place at the Taiyuan Zoo in northern China's Shanxi province (anonymous, 2009, a, #1). A red panda gave birth to two cubs, when no one knew she was pregnant (anonymous, 2009, a, #2). They were soon abandoned by their mother, so the staff had to quickly look for a replacement mother (anonymous, 2009, a, #3). A dog was found to nurse them, and she even chose to nurse the red pandas over her own puppies (anonymous, 2009, a, #4). With all of the care and nourishment the dog provided, the red panda cubs doubled in size over in just a couple weeks (anonymous, 2009, a, #5).

The connection I have  with the red panda was how I had always loved bears. Bears are by far, my favorite animal. In third grade I did a project on giant pandas, and when I found out there was a red panda, it instantly sparked my interest. Before I officially chose my animal for this report I looked it up on google images. I saw how cute red pandas are, and I wanted to learn more about them.

Clearly, red pandas have a lot of interesting facts about them that anyone can find interesting. There is plenty to be learned about them, and almost everything about them can be considered interesting. While it still may seem nothing like a panda, it can still be just as fun to learn about as its distant relative
Anonymous, 2009 a, "Dog Nurses Red Panda Cubs in Chinese Zoo"
Anonymous, 2012 a, "Red Panda"
Anonymous, 2012 b, "Red Panda Ailurus Fulgens"
Anonymous, 2012, c, "EDGE"
Delaney, 2012, "Red Panda's Diet"
Dyer, 2000, "Chromobacteriosis in a Chinese red panda"
Maatta, 2012, "Red Pandas Endangered"
Patterson-Kane, 2009, "Pneumonia from Angiostrongylus Vasorum Infection in a Red Panda"

Salesa, 2006 "Evidence of a false thumb in a fossil carnivore clarifies the evolution of pandas"

Schowalter-Hay, 2011, "Red Pandas Adaptations"
Su, 2001,"Genetic Diversity and Population History of the Red Panda "

Swyers, 2012, "Life Cycle of a Red Panda"