Welcome to the Binge Project series! These Binge Projects will feature me reading, watching, or listening to an entire run or collection of media (or something) in rapid order, then writing expansively about the experience. This installment takes a look at red pandas. Because OMG have you seen those things?
It’s been a while since my last Binge Project post; I’ve started a couple that I never finished, and decided to take some time from them to figure out what it is I really want to write about. But sometimes, inspiration just strikes:
Red pandas are the freakin best.
So we’re about to get all Zoobooks up in here and drop some red panda knowledge like it’s hot. Or drop it like it’s…spoiled bamboo, I guess. And in case you were wondering: yes, this is just an excuse to look at adorable red panda photos. If you want real scientific insight, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Red pandas are found predominantly in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The name “panda” comes from the Nepali word “ponya” (not to be confused with Ponyo or Ponyta), which means bamboo-eating animal. Like the glory-hogging giant pandas, red pandas love to chow down on some bamboo. But while the giant pandas (who aren’t actually close relatives) will eat the whole bamboo stock, red pandas are more discerning and prefer just the tender shoots. They’ll also eat some berries, insects, and leaves.
Red pandas were previously classified in either the raccoon family or the bear family, but recent research determined that they were way too cool for either. Now they get a family classification to themselves: Ailuridae. Fossils show that they’ve been around at least five million years. We Homo sapiens showed up less than 200,000 years ago, proving that this is the red pandas’ world, and we’re just living in it.
Red pandas are about 42 inches long and weigh between seven and 14 pounds. Although I cannot find this information on any scientific website, I believe this gives them the highest cuteness-to-size ratio in the animal kingdom.
Red pandas are solitary animals, preferring to live and forage solo. Again, the scientific confirmation is hard to find, but I believe the real reason for this is that any herd or large gathering of red pandas would be too much concentrated adorableness for our fragile earth to handle.
To conserve energy, red pandas forage at dusk and dawn and sleep during the hottest part of the day. It’s currently over 100 degrees here in Oklahoma, so I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to talk my boss into letting me have the same arrangement. They also use that bushy tail to warm themselves in the winter.
Now for the downer of this post. Red pandas are officially classified as a Vulnerable species, with fewer than 10,000 adult red pandas in the wild. Their main (only?) threat comes from the destruction of their habitat by humans, because humans are just the worst. I would much rather see no more humans than no more red pandas.
The good news is that you can help. The Red Panda Network tries to make a difference for the animals by working with the people who rely economically on red pandas’ habitats to create ways to protect for these lovable creatures. You can go here to donate to their efforts and “adopt” your own red panda. No, you don’t literally get to have a red panda in your house, but red pandas are too good for you anyway and you know it. But a mere $5 per month (or a one-time gift instead) will help protect them, and you’ll get fun cutesy info on the animal you’re helping save. So don’t be a dick, donate now. You know you’d just waste that $5 anyway.
And in case you need any further convincing, here are some more pictures and videos to make you awww: