Going beyond the bear necessities

By Erik Nilsson | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-16 08:12
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Red pandas at a wild animal park in Zhejiang's provincial capital, Hangzhou. [PHOTO/XINHUA]

Red pandas (Chengdu)

The giant panda's "baby brother" certainly plays second fiddle to wildlife conservation's most idolized entity.

Even the red panda's other English name, the lesser panda, connotes their sidekick role.

Size-wise, the "red bear-cat", as the creature is called in Chinese, is about as big as a household feline.

But the cuddly critters are indeed worthy of massive adoration on their own merits.

The tree-dwelling, nocturnal animal-the only surviving species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae-mostly munches bamboo but also enjoys the occasional egg, bird or bug.

They can be found at any of the panda-breeding bases in Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu.

Those who visit will discover the lesser panda is one of the greater icons of China's wildlife conservation, even if the reddish animals live in the black-and-white shadow of their super-celeb siblings.

They're a reminder that the country hosts a captivating casting call of rare species that really are the stuff of legends.

Contact the writer at erik_nilsson@chinadaily.com.cn

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