7 Issues You Did not Know About Purple Pandas


Mathias Appel Flickr

This is one factor you already knew: pink pandas are lovely. Whereas they don’t seem to be domesticated and subsequently are most likely not appropriate as pets, some individuals maintain them as pets anyway – particularly in Nepal and India – and add their lovely hijinks to the web for the world to see.

Listed here are seven different info about pink pandas (Ailurus fulgens) that you just won’t already know.

1. Purple pandas aren’t pandas. Regardless of their identify, pink pandas aren’t really intently associated to massive pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), nevertheless it wasn’t till the final ten or fifteen years that scientists settled upon simply the place pink pandas match on the evolutionary tree of life. It was clear that pink pandas have been members of the taxonomic “infraorder” Arctoidea, putting them in a bunch with bears, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus), raccoons, and mustelids (weasels, skunks, otters, and badgers). Analysis printed in 2000 within the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution decided that they weren’t most intently associated to bears or to raccoons as had been beforehand urged. As an alternative, pink pandas kind their very own phylogenetic household, alongside skunks, raccoons, and mustelids. From a genetic perspective, they’re extra just like the skunks and raccoons you may discover in your individual yard than the large pandas with whom they share habitats.

2. Herbivorous carnivoran. As a member of the Order Carnivora, the pink panda is a carnivoran. However not like most carnivorans, it isn’t really a carnivore. That’s, the pink panda is a largely an herbivore. It is really a method wherein the pink panda is extra like the large panda than its genetic relations: its weight loss plan consists nearly solely of bamboo leaves, plus bamboo shoots when in season, and the occasional fruit, flower, and (hardly ever) an odd egg or chook. The opposite carnivoran who can also be primarily herbivorous? The binturong, the funny-looking bearcat that smells like popcorn.

3. Candy tooth. Talking of weight loss plan, pink pandas like faux sugar. In a 2009 examine in The Journal of Heredity, researchers introduced quite a lot of Carnivoran species with bowls of plain water, naturally sweetened water, or artificially sweetened water. They found that pink pandas most popular three synthetic sugars: neotame, sucralose (Splenda), and aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal). That makes them the one non-primate species recognized to have the ability to style aspartame, a capability beforehand thought distinctive to Previous World monkeys, apes, and people.

4. Mixing in. Check out the reddish-orange tint of the pink panda’s coat and also you won’t instantly assume “good for camouflage,” however that is the place you would be mistaken. It seems that the pink panda is fairly good at hiding from predators by disappearing into the branches of fir timber that are often lined with reddish-brown moss. Which is fairly useful as a result of dying by snow leopard looks like a very dangerous technique to go.

5. A Tacky Downside. Okay, stick with me on this one. Purple pandas, labeled as “weak” by the IUCN, are threatened by habitat loss and poaching, regardless of being protected by laws within the international locations the place they’re discovered. Due to that habitat loss, wild populations of pink pandas are more and more fragmented. One fragment that hosts a inhabitants of round forty pink pandas is Nepal’s Langtang Nationwide Park, within the Himalayas. Even inside the nationwide park, these forty pandas are fragmented into 4 teams. In Langtang, the pink pandas have one other downside, and it is cheese. You see, the park can also be residence to 2 cheese factories that produce a mixed 14,000 kilograms of cheese annually to be bought in close by Kathmandu. To amass the 140,000 liters of milk essential to make the cheese, farmers maintain massive herds of chauri, a yak-cow hybrid, and people herds are permitted to graze inside the park. The competitors over meals sources with the chauri mixed with different threats to their lives from the herders and from their dogs has led to the dying of many, many pink pandas. “This downside is likely to be solved,” write a pair of researchers within the journal Conservation Biology, “by decreasing cheese manufacturing and limiting the variety of chauri whereas commensurately growing the worth of cheese in order that farmers’ revenue from milk may stay the identical.”

6. Purple pandas tweet. They do not tweet in 140 characters such as you or I do, however they tweet nonetheless. Truly, to be correct, the sound they make is called “twittering.” Have a pay attention (supply):


In accordance with researchers on the Nationwide Zoo, twittering appears to primarily used to sign reproductive intent. Which, now that I give it some thought, will not be all that completely different from some twitterers of our personal species both.

7. It Might Have Been Referred to as The Wah. Purple pandas have completely different names relying on the place you’re. In Nepal, they’re known as bhalu biralo. Sherpas name the critter ye niglva ponva or wah donka. However the Western world didn’t all the time name it a pink panda. In 1821, the English naturalist Main Normal Thomas Hardwicke made a presentation on the creature on the Linnean Society in London. That’s sometimes considered the second the pink panda turned recognized in Western science. In his presentation, titled “Description of a brand new Genus of the Class Mammalia, from the Himalaya Chain of Hills Between Nepaul and the Snowy Mountains,” he argued that the animal be known as a “wha,” explaining, “It’s often found by its loud cry or name, resembling the phrase ‘Wha’, typically repeating the identical: therefore is derived one of many native names by which it’s recognized. It’s also known as Chitwa.” Sadly, Hardwicke’s paper wasn’t printed till 1827, by which era the French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier had already printed an outline of the species together with a drawing. Naming rights, subsequently, went to Cuvier.


Flynn J.J., Nedbal M.A., Dragoo J.W. & Honeycutt R.L. Whence the pink panda?, Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, PMID: 11083933

Pradhan S., Saha G.Ok. & Khan J.A. (2001). Ecology of the pink panda Ailurus fulgens within the Singhalila Nationwide Park, Darjeeling, India, Organic Conservation, 98 (1) 11-18. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00079-3

Li X., Glaser D., Li W., Johnson W.E., O’Brien S.J., Beauchamp G.Ok. & Model J.G. (2009). Analyses of Candy Receptor Gene (Tas1r2) and Choice for Candy Stimuli in Species of Carnivora, Journal of Heredity, 100 (Complement 1) S90-S100. DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esp015

Roberts M.S. & Gittleman J.L. (1984). Ailurus fulgens, Mammalian Species, (222) 1. DOI: 10.2307/3503840

Roberts M.S. & Kessler D.S. (1979). Copy in Purple pandas, Ailurus fulgens (Carnivora: Ailuropodidae), Journal of Zoology, 188 (2) 235-249. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1979.tb03402.x

YONZON P.B. & HUNTER M.L. (1991). Cheese, Vacationers, and Purple Pandas within the Nepal Himalayas, Conservation Biology, 5 (2) 196-202. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.1991.tb00124.x


Header picture: Wikimedia Commons/Greg Hume. Different pictures: Wikimedia Commons/Jar0d; Wikimedia Commons/marshmallowbunnywabbit; Wikimedia Commons/Carlos Delgado; Wikimedia Commons/Rainer Halama.


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