Neither Panda Nor Bear
Although called red pandas, these Asian animals are neither pandas nor bears, and despite a resemblance to raccoons they are not closely related to them either. Red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are actually now thought to be the sole living representative of the taxonomic family, Ailuridae. The rest of their near-relatives are extinct, making red pandas a very important species.
Native to temperate Himalayan forests, the red panda can be found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, due to deforestation and poaching in some areas. The red panda eats largely bamboo but will eat insects and small animals.
Mongabay.com provides news, information, and analysis on environmental issues, with a special focus on tropical rainforests. The web site features more than 70,000 photos and has a section about forests for children available in nearly 40 languages.
Editor: Edith Lazenby
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