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Red Panda

The Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens, (小熊貓), is a mostly vegetarian large cat-size (60-cm long) mammal, formerly classified in the raccoon family (Procyonidae), but now classified as a member of the bear family (Ursidae). It is native to the Himalayas and southern China.

Its Western name is taken from a Himalayan language, maybe Nepalese but its meaning is uncertain. Its Chinese name means "little panda," so called, not to distinguish it from the Giant Panda, but named after it.

Like the Giant Panda, it eats large amounts of bamboo, but its diet also includes fruit, roots, acorns[?], and lichen, and captive Red Pandas readily eat meat. Red Pandas are excellent climbers, and forage largely in trees. Since the Red Panda mainly eats bamboo, its has a low-calorie diet which causes it to not do much more than eat and sleep.

Adults are largely solitary and mainly nocturnal. Females give birth to litters of one to four young (most often two) between mid-May and mid-July. The young are born fully-furred, but blind and helpless, and are weaned at five months of age. Sexual maturity occurs at age 18-20 months.

The species is endangered, largely because of habitat loss, though there is also some illegal hunting.



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