Ten Red Pandas in a Rhododendron Tree

December 20, 2019 / 5 mins read
Ten Red Pandas in a Rhododendron Tree


Well, that's not exactly how it happened—participants were actually on an Eco Zoo Trip and the pandas weren't all in one tree—but please sing along!

On the first day of the ecotrip travelers were able to see, Nepal's capital, Kathmandu city.
Eco-trip Kathmandu city.

Eight travelers, representing zoos and conservation groups around the world—including Auckland Zoo, Animals Asia Foundation and Hogle Zoo—joined trip leader and former red panda zookeeper, Sarah Jones, for what truly ended up being a trip of a lifetime. The group was also joined by a professor from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee.

On the second day of the ecotrip travelers were able to see, Swayambhunath temple and lots of monkeys.
Swayambhunath temple and lots of monkeys
On the third day of the ecotrip travelers were able to see, breathtaking views from a jeep and a plane to a house of tea.

Ecotrippers then began their long journey east to red panda habitat in the Himalayan foothills of Ilam district. This can take two days of traveling by plane and jeep, climbing a total of over 2,000 meters in elevation (up to 3,600 meters; Kathmandu is at 1,400 meters).

Their first stop was the beautiful and world-famous tea gardens of Ilam district where they enjoyed homestay amenities in a teahouse.

On the fourth day of the ecotrip travelers were able to be among protected forests and hospitality.

Among protected forests and hospitality

The group arrives in core red panda habitat and are welcomed by Choyataar Community Forest Group members!

On the fifth through tenth day of the ecotrip they were able to see, incredible Himalayan biodiversity.

The group spent the next five days trekking through cloud forests—led by Red Panda Network (RPN) Forest Forests—in search of red panda.


1-7-scaled.jpegRed panda cubs during December 2019 Eco Zoo Trip. Photo: Sarah Jones.
During the twelve days of the ecotrip travelers were able to see, nine cubs and one mother in red panda country.

In November of 2018, ecotrippers experienced the most successful ecotrip in RPN history with 8 red panda sightings. Participants of the November 19-30, 2019 Eco Zoo Trip had ten red panda sightings; nine cubs and one red panda mother!

This is unprecedented and is a strong indicator of increasing red panda numbers and the impact our conservation programs in Nepal. An achievement we could have never reached without our wonderful supporters!