Campaign Chunk Volume 12.04 – Red Panda
The Red Panda is a mammal that about 50 to 60 centimeters when fully grown, with their large, ringed tail adding another 40 centimeters or so to their length. Typically they weigh from 5 to 9 kilograms as adults. They are known for their distinctive colouration and in terms of looks can be described as a cross between a cat and a bear, much like their giant cousins.
The Red Panda lives in the same rainy and high attitude forest habitat as their giant panda cousins, but cover a larger range, from the mountains of Nepal to central China. They are classed as vegetarian carnivores. This may seem like a contradiction but it means that they are descended from the same ancestors as other carnivores, but that they rarely eat anything other than bamboo and a few insects, with the occasional egg or even a lizard or two.
One feature apart from their general looks they share with the giant panda is that they have a false thumb, which is an extension of the wrist bone. Whilst this may not seem impressive, it was, according to a study performed in 2006, “one of the most dramatic cases of convergence among vertebrates.”. In other words, two species developed the same physical trait, but for two different reasons, with the RP using it to help climb trees while giant pandas evolved this virtually identical feature because of their bamboo diet.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are fewer than 10,000 red pandas left in the wild, with the destruction of their home habitat is the number once reason for this creatures pushes towards extinction.
Hooks & Rumours
- An extensive breeding program is underway to repopulate the species. However, there is a small, yet vocal group that is attempting to stop the program, claiming it is a waste of money that could be spent on another program. As this is being funded by private companies and donations, the protests appears to not make much sense. It has been suggested that this protest is a false one, designed to bring publicity to an otherwise unknown project.
- A red panda escaped from the Smithsonian National Zoo for just three weeks when he made a break for it in June 2013. A similar escape occurred only a couple of weeks ago. A call was put out to help find Clive, as the RP was called. The only problem is, not one,but 3 red pandas were returned. One was Clive, but where did the other two come from?
- A drive to help adopt and fund conservation efforts is underway. This seems to have caught the public by storm and has seen an increase in their popularity across shows and in general, much like the giant panda had a while ago. However, a side effect of this seems to be people wanting them as pets. One of a small refuge is needing guards to help patrol their area and keep away poachers and those that would steal them for their clients
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