Edinburgh Zoo Prepares For Arrival of Red Pandas

Kitty and Kush, red pandas at The Highland Wildlife Park. Photo by J Orsi, courtesy of RZSS.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) surprise award of an additional £25,000 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is to be used to support the development of an enclosure for the two red pandas that will arrive at Edinburgh Zoo later this year.

Red pandas are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and are native to the eastern Himalayas and south central China. Despite what their name suggests, red pandas are not related to giant pandas, but are distantly related to the raccoon family.

“As a conservation charity, we’re delighted and grateful to receive this additional sum from players of People’s Postcode Lottery,” said Barbara Smith, Managing Director for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, owners of Edinburgh Zoo.

“Two male red pandas are due to arrive later this year at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and this surprise funding will make a huge contribution towards the creation of an enclosure for them.”

‘Bringing red pandas back to Edinburgh’

Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, added: “We’re delighted to be bringing red pandas back to Edinburgh.

“Our sister park RZSS Highland Wildlife Park houses red pandas and has had great success in breeding this endangered species, with a male kit born for the first time in over a decade in 2013 and a male and a female in 2014. In the future we hope to replicate this success at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and, in the future, we will house a breeding pair.”

Darren explained that RZSS Highland Wildlife Park’s breeding pair of red pandas has lived there since 2012, although the species has been at the Park since 2008 and resident female Kitty has given birth and reared three kits.

‘We hope to replicate this success at Edinburgh Zoo’

“In the future we hope to replicate this success at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo,” continued Darren. “To start with, we will support the captive breeding programme as a male holder but in the future we will house a breeding pair.

“We’re sure our red pandas will be extremely popular – and they were a natural choice as we already have a plentiful supply of bamboo!”

Red Pandas

  • Red pandas, also known as the lesser panda, have features similar to giant pandas, markings similar to a raccoon and are slightly larger than domestic cats.
  • They have reddish-brown fur with a bushy ringed tails and small ears, and their fur helps to keep them camouflaged in their natural habitat.
  • Red pandas share some of their habitat with the giant panda and also like to eat bamboo. However, red pandas supplement their diets with fruits, nuts, eggs, flowers and seeds.
  • Their average lifespan is eight to 12 years, although some red pandas live up to 15 years.
  • Red pandas are generally quiet, but when close by, squeaking and chattering sounds, which sound similar to a chipmunk, can be heard.
  • Red panda females normally give birth to one to four kits in mid-June to late July.
  • Red pandas are listed as Endangered due to habitat loss and poaching and it is estimated that there are fewer than 2,400 red pandas left in the wild.