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Emily Lisher, Emelia Millican, Taylor Kelley

Red Panda
The red panda, Ailurus fulgens, is classified as a carnivore; there main diet in the wild is
bamboo, fruit, nuts, and small mammals when they are available. The largest portion of this
animal's diet is the bamboo. They live in subtropical and temperate forests or tropical forests,
bamboo is a large portion of the vegetation in the forest. It is also the only food that they can
consume during the winter since that is the only thing that is still growing (Glatston 2011).
The anatomy of the red panda is very complex since it seems that it is made up of so
many different parts similar to other animals. Starting with the mouth these animals have
between 36 and 38 teeth. The teeth are divided into incisors, canines, premolars and molars. The
incisors like most all other animals are used to grab and tear food away from its source. The
incisors are used for killing and biting into prey. These teeth can be characterized by the low
crown heights that they possess. The molar and premolars are used to grind up the food such as
the bamboo that contains a large amount of fiber. These teeth have a number accessory of cusps,
this is what is useful in the mastication of these foods so effective. Red pandas differ from other
carnivores because their premolar have low rounded cusps while most other carnivores have
premolars with shearing crests (Glaston 2011).
The digestive tract of the red panda is a simple digestive tract, it is quite similar to the
digestive tract of a cat. Their digestive system is relatively small compared to the rest of the size
of the body, they relate to other carnivores by having this short digestive system. To get the idea
the digestive tract of the red panda is only 4.2 times the length of the animal's body. In omnivores
like a pig, which shares similarities with the red panda in their teeth, their digestive system is 13
times longer than the body of the pig. The red panda doesnt have any sort of specialized
adaptations in the digestive system that is made to breakdown and digest the amount of fiber that

Emily Lisher, Emelia Millican, Taylor Kelley

they digest. These animals lack any microbes in their digestive system that could breakdown the
fiber. They also lack a cecum so there isnt any hindgut fermentation occurring either. Since their
diet does consist of lots of bamboo they need away to grab it, this is where the radial sesamoid of
the forepaw. It is used to grasp the bamboo and other foods (Glaston 1989).
The diet of theses animals, as stated earlier is mainly bamboo which contains a large
amount of fiber. In a wild habitat 68.4% of the animals normal annual diet consist of bamboo
leaves, 14.6% if the ringal shoots, 9.23% fruits, 6.15% berries, and 1.6% vegetables such as
mushrooms. In the Blijdorp Zoo red pandas have a diet that has three main components. The first
being a concentrated food, they used extruded dog pellet, this provided amino acids, digestible
carbohydrates and fats as well as required vitamins and minerals. The next component is a fruitcarbohydrate mixture this is given to provide the animals with a sufficient amount food and
digestible carbohydrates. The last is plant material growing in the enclosure. The pandas didnt
enjoy grass clippings so they wouldnt e9at these only grasses that were grown in the enclosure.
In North American Zoos most diet contain eight specific ingredients: water, cereals, milk
products, fruits and vegetables, fiber sources and complete feeds, vitamin and mineral mixes,
eggs and other items. As always ater is a major source of the diet whether it is being drunk from
a source or in the foods given. The cereals and milk products make of the carbohydrates and
lipids that are needed in the diet, also some protein. Fruits and vegetables provide sugars,
especially the fruits provide more carbohydrates. Vegetables are a good source of water in the
feed. Fiber sources are used to acquire fiber that is needed and also protein. Eggs are also another
good source of protein that is used (Glaston 1989).
Bamboo is their main source of food in the wild, it is mostly high fiber and doesn't carry
much nutrients for animals that cant digest this large amount of fiber. These animals are

Emily Lisher, Emelia Millican, Taylor Kelley

constantly eating bamboo, this is done because they have a fast rate of passage through their
digestive system. It also allows for constant nutrients from the bamboo that can be absorbed into
body. Red Pandas do not contain the digestive microbes needed to fully digest bamboo, there are
some that will break down parts of the bamboo to allow for some nutrients to be absorbed (Kong
2014).
Red pandas are mainly herbivores and are considered to be opportunistic omnivores.
When they do acquire meat from an animal source this will give to body more protein. In a
balanced zoo diet it should consist of no more than 3% fats, have at least 25% of protein either
animals or plant source, and fiber can range anywhere from 15-25% and depending on the
individual animal it can determine the amount of fiber the animal will need. Since the food of the
animal moves so quickly through the digestive system, it is recommended that they animal has a
food source to be eating constantly such vegetables, bamboo, grasses, or leaf material. (Glaston
2011).
In making a new diet for the these pandas at the Boise Zoo with food from the area we need to
look for food sources that can replace major food sources such as the bamboo. It has been shown
in studies that roughages are an important part of these animals diet, a inexpensive and fairly
good replacement is alfalfa. It provides a fair amount of protein and fiber needed in the diet. This
source of feed can be fed at least twice a day along with a corn flour to meet cereal requirements
that will meet the carbohydrates that are needed in the body. Eggs are something that can be
added to the diet to supply extra protein that is need. Pandas should have access to fruits and
vegetables in the enclosure at all time. Their ability to digest foodstuff quickly means they need
to have a continuous food source. In the wild they consume lots of bamboo since only about a
quarter of what is eaten is digested, the rest is passed through the feces. Consist food sources will
allow for a healthier diet for the animal. It needs to be noted that these animals are very sensitive,
they are one of the few animals that will starve themselves if they are given foods that are not
part of a normal diet.

Emily Lisher, Emelia Millican, Taylor Kelley

Works Cited
Glatston, A. R., and Red Panda Conference. Red Panda Biology. The Hague, The Netherlands:
SPB Academic Pub., 1989. Print.
Glatston, A. R. Red Panda : Biology and Conservation of the First Panda. 1st ed. Amsterdam ;
Boston: Elsevier/Academic, 2011. Print.
Kong, Fanli, et al. "Characterization of the gut microbiota in the red panda (Ailurus fulgens)."
PloS one 9.2 (2014): e87885.