Ailurus – Red panda

Be ready to be puzzled by this vegetarian carnivore!

Crouched in the canopy of east Himalayan wilderness slopes is 140 years of taxonomic bewilderment.

Don’t assume, no matter how tempting the prospect is, that red pandas borrow their name from what is now infamously referred to as the ‘giant panda’ (black and white, called initially the parti-colored bear); on the very contrary, red pandas got their name fifty years before we even discovered giant pandas. Before taxonomists realized that red pandas were their unique type (deserving their own separate family), they were classified with bears and even raccoons because of their physical appearance.

Sadly, fewer than 10,000 of these fascinating leaf-eating carnivores are left today, and they are tweeting for help! (The sound they make from their mouths is called ‘twittering’).