The Red Panda
Planning my adventure to Bhutan and Northern India with Wells Gray Tours I came across a site that talked about Bhutan’s red panda. The name red panda immediately conjured up a vision of a rather large sedate bear nibbling on bamboo shoots just like the giant (black & white) panda of China. After all, China and Tibet are home of the giant panda and border Bhutan so it made perfect sense to me!
Curious about this creature I was not familiar with, I did some research before leaving home and was very glad I did. The red panda is not at all like the panda I visualized but instead a small reddish brown animal slightly larger than a domestic cat, with a striped tail like a raccoon and not related to the giant panda, which is a bear. Like the giant panda, it feeds mainly on bamboo but also eats eggs, birds, insects and small mammals.
Red pandas are endangered, being victims of deforestation. Their habitat is shrinking as more and more forests are being destroyed by logging practices and the spread of agriculture.
After reading about this beautiful creature and it’s vulnerability I was even more excited about seeing one. We were going to visiting two areas in the Himalayas, Bhutan, and Sikkim in India so my chances were good.
It was not in the wild when I saw my first red panda but in the Himalayan Zoological Park. It was exciting to see this beautiful creature moving gracefully through tree branches, though I must admit, on the ground grace eluded them as their shorter front legs made for a wobbly gait. I loved watching these creatures and was thrilled to be meeting another one of God’s creatures on my Wells Gray Tours tour.
Learn more about the red panda by visiting the video gallery provided by The Red Panda Network.
Written by: Joan Niemeier
All pictures taken by: Joan Niemeier