Vilas Zoo Host Endangered Red Pandas
Species Survival Initiative Continues Important Work
by Pallav Regmi, age 12
Recently, a red panda named Sha-Lei arrived at Henry Vilas Zoo from Edmonton, Alberta. Another red panda named Chang-Tan has been in the Zoo since 2007. Zoo managers hope that Sha-Lei and Chang-Tan will mate.
Red pandas originate in the bamboo forests of China. They can also be found in the mountains of Nepal, northern Burma, and in central China.
Even though the red panda is closely related to giant pandas, the two are obviously different in size. Red pandas are about the size of raccoons and have long bushy tails to keep themselves warm in the winter. They can weigh from 112 to 224 ounces and are about 3.5 feet long. They eat bamboo, berries, blossoms, bird eggs, and variety of plants and small leaves.
Managers at Henry Vilas Zoo want to mate Sha-Lei and Chang Tan because the red panda is seriously endangered. The spread of agriculture and deforestation throughout Asia has destroyed the habitats of both the red and giant pandas. If Sha-Lei and Chang-Tan mate, it will be another success story for the Species Survival Initiative, which is sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
[Sources: Wisconsin State Journal; Simpson Street Free Press; Henry Vilas Zoological Society]