New Ways of Offering “Assisted Food” for Red Panda

In addition to various suspended ropes, swings, and ladders, many red and yellow “fruit baskets” were recently set up in the grounds where the red pandas reside in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. What do these “fruit baskets” hung between the ladders or swings do? The swift red panda will run down the tree to give us the answer very soon.


Well, what is going on over there? Let me climb down and check it out!


Pumpkin and apple hung on a suspended ladder


Red pandas running down from the treetops


Walking along the swing like walking on a single-plank bridge, one red panda immediately snatched the apple hanging on the swing at once and held it in her arms to gnaw on it. One red panda stood upright, their hands holding onto the swing, and put her head into the pumpkin ring to enjoy the vegetable. The two enjoyed their favorite “assisted food” in peace without fighting at all.


One with the apple: Hey, bro, someone is snapping pictures of us while we’re enjoying our food!

One with the pumpkin: Wait! What did you say? I can’t hear you. This is so delicious. I want to bite it into a moon.


One with the apple: I want to ignore these stupid bipedal creatures, too. They act like they’ve never seen us eating before.” Licking her tongue, and getting on the apple again!


“They’ve have already started enjoying the food over there. Oh dear! It’s hard for me to climb up this ladder…”


“Don’t worry, bro. It looks there’s food here. Let me check!”


“Let me see what’s in this thing!”


What new things can you bring to us, you bipedals? I’ve finished everything in the tube.


Seeing the red pandas doing this every day, the visitors are so excited: “Look! They climb down the trees so quickly. They can climb down backwards so effortlessly! Hey, look! The red pandas are eating pumpkin! Why is the food suspended? To play with it? Huh? They’re using two hands, incredible! Oh no, they’re eating the apple in their arms! It’s so much fun to watch them eating! Look, she’s sitting firmly on the swing and isn’t losing her balance! They aren’t quarreling over the food. They’re so swift climbing up the ladders!”


These new ways of offering “assisted foods” to red pandas truly serve double purposes. They not only enrich red panda activity spaces but also makes it more exciting for the tourists. These things, although they seem small, contain lots of popular science knowledge about the red panda.


First, we can learn about the red panda diet. The red panda diet is comparatively more omnivorous. Like the giant panda, the red panda favors bamboo shoots, tender twigs, and bamboo leaves, various wild fruits, leaves and moss, and they also prey on birds or bird egg, and other small creatures, insects, etc., particularly favoring sweet food. Feces stained green from grass are commonly seen on the ground where the red panda resides. The red pandas are neat and usually defecate at a designated location. They habitually rub their mouths and faces with their claws or lick their mouths after eating. This kind looks very cute. We can often see a red panda sticking her tongue out as her little tongue is the organ she uses to explore and perceive.


Second, we can learn whether the red panda lives in groups or is solitary. The red panda usually appears alone or lives in group, and they are very territorial. This is why we occasionally see captive red pandas fight over food or territory when space is not sufficient, and they are surprisingly violent fighters (biting off ears or tail) when possible. Two well-matched red pandas may live in peace together when there is sufficient food.


Third, we can learn that a lesser panda has a stout tail. The lesser panda uses its tail to remain balanced, so they can effortlessly glide up and down the tree or suspended ladder. The pattern of nine rings on their tails earn them the nickname the “nine-ring wolf”. The red panda is called a wolf by common nomenclature, which is proof that they are termagant in nature, even though they look so adorable.


Fourth, the front claws of the red panda are interesting. A red panda can hold or carry an apple easily because its front claw has a sixth finger to help her with eating bamboo. This is why the red panda always is associated with the giant panda and has become one of its companion animals.


Fifth is content enrichment. Not only does the giant panda need content enrichment, most captive animals need it too. Content enrichment, as it implies, involves enriching the living environment or circumstances. The goal is to make the animal exhibit less stereotyped behavior, in other words, to prevent the animals from suffering from cabin fever due to the tedium in their lives. While the red panda walks around, making it hard for them to find food or inciting them to look for food can help the red panda to perform physical exertion, which keeps them healthy mentally and physically.


These are just a few things “assisted food” offered in the red panda activity space offers, but its effects are far-reaching in the conservation effort.