When you see red pandas in zoos like Adelaide, Johannesburg, and Houston, it’s easy to forget that these animals are native to the extreme elevations of the Himalayas, where temperatures can drop well below freezing.
Red pandas have several adaptations for life in the cold and are great at keeping themselves nice and cozy in cold weather. Their footpads serve as built-in snowshoes, keeping them warm in the snow. Their long, fluffy tails serve as plush scarves, covering their noses when they curl up and warming the air that they breathe. Red pandas even have hair tufts coming out of their ears – built in earmuffs!
When it gets really, really cold, red pandas go into what is called torpor. They wrap their tail around themselves and go into a deep sleep, reducing their metabolic demands and lowering both their core temperature and respiration rate. Whenever they’re not sleeping, however, red pandas truly enjoy a good romp in the snow!
You might be wondering how these cute and cuddly snowmobiles cope with hot weather. Well, in zoos that are located in climates that are a little too warm for our furry friends, keepers provide red pandas with cooling rocks, mist fans, and shade structures. They also provide ice treats and frozen fruit to red pandas to help cool down their internal body temperatures. Some zoos even go as far as to use manufactured snow to provide entertainment and temperature control for their resident red pandas.
This holiday season, whether you are dreaming of a white Christmas or you are preparing for a day at the beach, consider giving the gift of a red panda. Your adoption of one of these adorable animals will support Himalayan habitat protection and anti-poaching programs in Nepal. Even though you won’t actually receive a red panda (sorry), we will send you a personalized adoption certificate and an adoption package, as well as welcome you as a member of Red Panda Network.
Of course, Red Panda Network gear also makes for a great gift. You can additionally support our work by doing your online holiday shopping through AmazonSmile. There is no extra cost to you. All you have to do is shop using this special link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/26-1103671.
Regardless of where you live or where your closest zoo may be, this holiday season, help us to protect the red panda’s natural Himalayan habitat – snow included.
Writing and Communications Volunteer
Red Panda Network