The Zoo is home to two red pandas, a female named Starlight and a male named Willie. Born in June 2017, Starlight arrived at the Zoo in spring 2018 from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Willie was born in 2015 at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina and came to us in 2020 from Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee. Willie is distinctive from Starlight based on his predominantly white face, while Starlight’s face markings are more red. The red panda habitat is located next to the Animal Hospital.
Although technically omnivores, red pandas are primarily herbivores and prefer to feed on bamboo leaves and shoots. They will also eat berries, blossoms, the leaves of other plants, and occasionally bird eggs, insects, and small rodents.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status
They prefer cool temperate climates in deciduous and coniferous forests. These forests are vital for red panda survival, since they are an arboreal species.
The biggest threat to this species is deforestation, which eliminates nesting sites and sources of food, and isolates populations into small fragments. They are also poached for their fur, and are becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade.