- Thursday, 16 November 2017 12:05
This week we will be letting you know how we look after our very cute Red Pandas and the best time for you to see them when you visit us! We have two Red Pandas here at Flamingo Land called Tai Jang our female who is 5 and our male Bai Jiao who is also 5. We train our red pandas every day, encouraging them to come down from the trees, place their nose against our target stick then be hand fed a reward by our keepers. We do this every day generally around half one which is the best time for our public to see our pandas in action. This allows us to do use the target stick to guide them around the enclosure, onto scales and into crates should we need to move them anywhere. Target training is very important for health checks and weighing animals. They both weigh around 5 kilograms. Females tend to be more confident and Tai Jang regularly comes down, touches the target stick with her nose and received a reward. This training technique is called positive reinforcement and can be used for a whole range of species.
They received their favourite ‘panda cake’ which consists of a variety of nutrients including protein, essential vitamins, minerals and high fibre. However, bamboo, fruits, pellets and other leaves make up a majority of their diet.
The name panda is thought to be in reference to the Nepali word ponya from the phrase nigalya ponya, meaning ‘eater of bamboo’. Just like the giant panda they share a similar diet however are very different in appearance. The red panda is slightly more racoon and look fairly similar. However, they have a lovely red coat and long bushy tail which they can wrap round themselves like a duvet to keep warm. They can also use their tails for balance as they are very efficient climbers and spend most of their time up in the trees. If you wish to see our red pandas, then that is always the first place to look! They have semi-retractable claws which also gives them amazing grip and allows them to pull leaves off branches. They originate from the forests and mountain ranges of Nepal, China, Bhutan and India. Their fur helps keep them camouflaged in amongst the red moss in their natural habitat.
Bai Jiao moved here from Cotswold zoo originally, whilst Tai Jang came here from Leipzig Zoo in Germany. They came here as part of the European endangered species programme and previously they have had one cub which has since moved to another zoo.
Sadly, the reason we have a breeding pair of red pandas here at the zoo is because they are an endangered species with fewer than ten thousand left in the wild. They are poached for their fur and also taken from the wild to become part of the illegal pet trade. Habitat loss is another huge factor in their populations decreasing.