15
Sep

International Red Panda Day 2016

With the right attitude, any day can be a celebration. November 23 is National Eat a Cranberry Day in the United States, April 12 is Yuri’s Night, commemorating the first time a human being went to space; and you can join the good people of Madagascar in celebrating their independence on June 26. For every square on the calendar, there’s someone, somewhere, who’s been counting down the days and is ready to party. For us at Red Panda Network, that’s the third Saturday of September, which falls on September 17th this year, because that’s International Red Panda Day (IRPD).

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The red panda is a small, tree-dwelling mammal native to the high-altitude forests of Nepal and adjacent areas of China, India, and Myanmar. This original panda, formally described by biologists decades before the giant panda (no big deal), lives almost entirely on bamboo, supplemented with fruits, mushrooms, eggs, and the occasional bird—and are the only non-primate that can taste the artificial sweetener aspartame. Solitary in the wild but playful in a well-tended captive environment, this brightly colored and beautiful animal is a charismatic ambassador for the varied and fascinating biospheres in the Himalayas.

But.

Poaching, climate change, human encroachment on their habitat, and inbreeding depression all threaten the red panda, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently downgraded their status from “vulnerable” to “endangered.” Though they are technically protected in each country of their native range, it’s possible that 2500 or fewer red pandas still live in the wild. So while adding another handful of bamboo to your stir fry and practicing your huff-quack are both acceptable ways to celebrate International Red Panda Day, there’s more to be done. Poaching has become an especially serious problem in recent years, with 70 hides confiscated in the past four years by Nepalese authorities. 70 would be a significant number in the small population of wild red pandas – but these are only the ones that have been intercepted, and the real number of red pandas lost to poaching is likely higher. With this in mind, we have decided to devote International Red Panda Day (IRPD) 2016 to stopping this devastating threat. All IRPD donations we receive will go to supporting our anti-poaching initiatives and efforts to stop the illegal red panda trade. DONATE NOW!

Zoos and zookeepers around the world hold red panda events on International Red Panda Day in the hope of bringing more public awareness to the need to preserve red pandas and their wild habitat. 2015’s International Red Panda Day saw celebrations in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, all dedicated to educating the worldwide public about these unique and important little animals. With our partners in zoos around the world, with other international conservation organizations like France’s CPPR (Connaître et Protéger le Panda Roux, Know and Protect the Red Panda) and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (which does help our little guys, too), we’re ready to make 2016’s International Red Panda Day the best ever and get the word out to as many people as possible that these animals need our help—and that our help can really make a difference!

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IRPD at Zoo de la Flèche in France

Speaking of IRPD. We want to know how YOU celebrate IRPD! In celebration of this special day, we’re hosting a photo contest AND re-launching our Booster t-shirt campaign! This week only, get your official 2016 IRPD (https://www.booster.com/irpd) and “Save the Red Panda” (https://www.booster.com/redpanda2016) t-shirt and proceeds go DIRECTLY to supporting our red panda conservation initiatives! If you already purchased one of these terrific tees, take a photo of yourself wearing it and post it to your social media and tag Red Panda Network. Please be sure to also include the following:

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-“This is how I celebrate IRPD!”
– #IRPD2016
– links to t-shirt campaign pages

The top three photos will win a free red panda plush to cuddle! If you haven’t purchased a t-shirt, please do so, and get ready for a second photo contest in the coming months.

Thank you for reading and happy IRPD!

 
Chris Turner-Neal
Writing and Communications Volunteer
Red Panda Network

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