January 6, 2023
Fluff with a Function
- as seen by -Christos Tufts
I watched in awe as the western red pandas (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo used their superior climbing skills to move into the treetops. It is an ability these small mammals need to find a good place for both rest and protection.
Fluffy, bear-like fur and bushy tails keep red pandas warm in colder climates. However, on a recent rainy December day, temperatures were over 50 degrees. This red panda (above) found its tail, instead, to be the perfect pillow. Its stillness as it dozed made for an excellent photo opportunity as I fidgeted with unfamiliar camera gear.
Western red pandas are Endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from increased development of roads, electrical transmission, mining, and conversion for agriculture and livestock. Poaching is also an ongoing problem in much of their range.
There are two different species of red panda at three of WCS’s parks. Western red pandas live at both the Central Park Zoo and Bronx Zoo. Styan’s red pandas (Ailurus fulgens styani) can be seen at Prospect Park Zoo. Be sure to bring your camera when you visit.