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  Red Panda
 


The Red Panda is endemic to the Himalayas in Bhutan, southern China, India, Laos, Nepal, and Burma. Red Panda is the state animal in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is also the mascot of the Darjeeling international festivals. There is an estimated population of less than 2,500 mature individuals. Their population continues to decline due to habitat fragmentation

The Red Panda or Lesser Panda, Ailurus fulgens ("shining cat"), is a mostly herbivorous mammal, specialized as a bamboo feeder. It is quite long: 79-120 cm, or 31 to 47 in (including the tail length of 30 to 60 cm/12 to 24 in). Males weigh 4.5 to 6.2 kg (10 to 14 lb); females 3 to 4.5 kg (6 to 10 lb).

The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder, with long and soft reddish-brown fur on upper parts, blackish fur on lower parts, light face with tear markings and robust cranial-dental features. The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon, but each individual can have distinctive markings.

Its roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes: almost pitch black. Its long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red transverse ocher rings provides balance and excellent camouflage against its habitat of moss and lichen covered trees.

 
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The legs are black, short and bear-like with thick fur on the soles of the paws hiding scent glands and serving as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces.

The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for firm grasping to facilitate substantial movement on narrow tree branches and seizing leaves and fruit. Like the Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), it has a “false thumb” that really is an extension of the wrist bone
 
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