We’re always finding reasons to celebrate our adorable, rusty red, bushy-tailed friends, and there’s no better day than International Red Panda Day, which falls annually on the third Saturday of September.
You’ve probably seen these wonderful creatures climbing in the trees – or, more likely, napping in the trees – and munching on bamboo. Paprika, Kalden, and Tango are the red pandas currently living at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, and they are definitely among our most popular residents.
Unfortunately, their attractiveness is also their downfall. In the wild, red pandas have been hunted for their pelts or captured to be a part of the pet trade. Those remaining are threatened by deforestation. All of this has left red pandas on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Researchers believe the total population of red pandas has declined by 40 percent over the past two decades. It is probable that this decline will continue in the coming years.
However, there is hope for red pandas. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the Red Panda Network are working hard to keep this species going. The SSP was organized to help ensure the survival of species that are threatened or endangered in the wild. The SSP is not a substitute for preserving animals in nature, but rather a strategy for creating healthy, self-sustaining, captive populations that can be reintroduced into restored or secured habitats.
The Red Panda Network was started with a commitment to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities. As part of the Red Panda Network, red pandas were sent to the Edmonton Valley Zoo from the Tokuyama Zoo in Japan in 2004. To date, 12 healthy red pandas have been born right here at the Edmonton Valley Zoo! Our red pandas are unrelated to many other red pandas in North America, so their genes are extremely valuable within the population, making them an essential part of the SSP. Most of the red pandas born at the Edmonton Valley Zoo are out on breeding loans to accredited zoos across North America.
Come visit our red panda friends and help their conservation through donations to the Edmonton Valley Zoo or at the TipTap pay stations next to their zoo habitat.