Lesser Panda, Red Panda, Red Cat-bear

(Ailurus fulgens)


Lesser Panda, Red Panda, Red Cat-bear IUCN ENDANGERED (EN)


Facts about this animal

The Lesser Panda is a cat-like relative of the raccoon with a flowing coat of reddish-brown and black. The head-body length is 51-64 cm, the tail length is 28-48 cm. The body weight is usually between 3.5 and 5.5 kg. The head is rounded and the muzzle is short and pointed. The muzzle, chin, a patch above each eye, and the cheeks are white. The ears are rather large, pointed and edged with long white hair. The tail is bushy, about two-third of the head-body length and inconspicuously ringed (about 8 rings).


The coat is long and soft, with a very dense underfur. The upper parts are rusty to deep chestnut, with a yellowish tinge, darkest along the middle of the back. The legs and the belly are dark reddish-brown to black. The sexes are alike.

Did you know?
That the lesser panda is a close relative of the raccoon? However, their habits are quite different, e.g. while the raccoon is an opportunistic omnivore, the lesser panda subsists primarily on bamboo. Because it cannot digest cellulose, it must consume large quantities of bamboo to survive.


Name (Scientific) Ailurus fulgens
Name (English) Lesser Panda, Red Panda, Red Cat-bear
Name (French) Petit panda, Panda roux, Panda éclatant
Name (German) Kleiner Panda, Roter Panda, Katzenbär
Name (Spanish) Panda chico, Panda Rojo
Local names Hun-Ho (Chin.), Wah, Ye, Nigalva ponva (Nepal.)
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gerald Dick



Range Bhutan, China, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal
Habitat Temperate bamboo forests, in an altitude range of 1500 to 4000 m
Wild population Approx. 10,000 (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 808 registered by the International Studbook (excluding China), of which 436 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

Lesser Panda, Red Panda, Red Cat-bear


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Madelaine Moinat

Why do zoos keep this animal

The lesser Panda is an endangered species with probably less than 7'000 animals surviving in the wild. With a view of building up a viable reserve population, an International Studbook has been established already in 1979 under the WAZA umbrella, and coordinated conservation breeding programmes are operated at the regional level by ARAZPA, AZA, EAZA, JAZA and PAAZAB.


The lesser panda is a very appealing species and therfore is also a good ambassador species for its habitat, the bamboo forests of the Himalayas. The bamboo forest needs such ambasadors as a study published in 2004 estimates that as many as half of the world’s 1200 woody bamboo species may be in danger of extinction as a result of massive forest destruction.