Red Panda


Red Panda at the Brandywine ZooThe Brandywine Zoo has one red panda, Sherman. Sherman was born at the Detroit Zoo in 2012. He came to live at the Brandywine Zoo in 2018. His companion, Mohu, died in May 2023 of epilepsy. She is missed by all at the zoo and by all her loyal visitors.

Bamboo forests in high elevations

Red pandas are found in China (in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Xizang), Nepal, Bhutan, and northern Myanmar

Mostly bamboo leaves and shoots, also berries, leaves, acorns, flowers, eggs, insects and grubs

Red to orange body, with white facial markings, brown to black belly and legs, and a white striped tail

Body: 62-56 cm, Tail: 49-28 cm Total Length: 111-84 cm (roughly 3.5-3 feet)

Females average 15 pounds and males average 21 pounds

Wild: 8-10 years
Under Human Care: 13-18 years

Red panda populations have declined approximately 50% in the last 20 years. It is estimated that as few as 2,500 remain in the wild. Their biggest threats are habitat loss and fragmentation (the splitting of large forest into smaller inaccessible fragments) caused by logging and clearing forests to make room for human settlements and roads.


They have 1 or 2 infants at a time, but can have up to four! Gestation lasts around 4-5 months.

• Red pandas spend 10-12 hours a day looking for food
• They ‘wash’ themselves like cats do, using their fore-paws while sitting upright.
• They are arboreal meaning they spend most of their time in trees. They generally stalk and ambush their prey, but sometimes lie and wait for prey to walk by.

• Adult red pandas are usually solitary, meaning they live by themselves.
• It is thought that forehead patterns of red pandas are unique, and help them identify each other.

Red pandas use body language to communicate, but they also have 7 distinct calls: whistle, quack-snort, twitter, squeal, bleat, exhale, and snort. Aggression is rare, but angry red pandas will arch their back and tail, shake their head from side to side, or even stand on their hind legs and bat at their opponents with their fore paws.


The word panda is derived from a Nepalese term ‘ponva’ for “eater of bamboo”

The Chinese name for the red panda is “HUNHO,” which in English means firefox

Frédéric Cuvier, a French zoologist, first described the red panda in 1825, about 48 years before the giant panda was cataloged.

Red pandas are most closely related to raccoons, but they are the only living species in their taxonomic family.

Males leave a scent track that they secrete from the pads of their feet.

What are AZA Zoos doing for Red Pandas?

Their zoo population is managed through conservation breeding programs called Species Survival Plan programs, which ensures genetic diversity and species health. There are around 200 individual red pandas at 85 AZA-accredited facilities. AZA zoos fund and participate in field research focusing on learning about red panda ecology, tracking wild populations and genetics, teaching local people ways to protect pandas, and partnering with targeted conservation organizations.

Sherman the red panda at the Brandywine Zoo