Today is International Red Panda Day, which is meant to raise awareness of this wonderful creature and help with conservation efforts. With an ever declining number remaining in the wild, primarily due to poachers and habitat loss, this is a day to help raise awareness of this amazing, yet now endangered species. Our local Kansas City Zoo has been part of this conservation effort and around 4 years ago a little red panda cub named Fei Jai made his debut. I’ve always thought red pandas were rather adorable, but the baby version, weighing in at only 4 pounds, is almost too much cuteness to handle. Scientists have struggled to classify the red panda, sometimes relating it to a giant panda and then a raccoon, before giving it its own unique family called the Ailuridae. A nearly unpronounceable word, as usual, so I rather like the other nickname that’s often given to them of firefox. But no matter how you define them, I definitely hope this incredible creature is around for years to come!
For a brief period of time when I was a child, being a zookeeper was a dream of mine. Like most kids, the dream of what I wanted to “be” when I grew up changed often. The idea of having a job where I could hang out with animals all of the time seemed like the coolest thing ever. Still does, actually, on some days when I’m in a meeting with lots of humans who can’t seem to agree on what to do next. It almost makes me giggle to think we fancy our species so superior, yet often seem to forget that we don’t always have to “think” our way through everything. Like other animals, we are indeed gifted with instinct, but unlike other animals, we’re less likely to rely on it. Just watching a squirrel is incredibly mesmerizing to me. There’s a bit of caution there, but no ability to overthink anything in a way that would hinder what simply “feels” like the best thing to do next. Though we typically seek our tutelage from humans, there’s much that animals can teach us. When I observe closely, I’m happily reminded that just being myself and following my instincts are a rather wonderful way to live.
And while that momentary dream of working with animals never came true, I still have a deep love for them to this day. I can’t imagine a world with only humans tromping around the planet. I’m so inspired by these creatures, whether they are eating bamboo in trees or swimming in the ocean. My own furry creature, Phineas, is currently staring at me, silently willing me to walk over and hand him his evening treat. That’s pretty much all he needs to be happy and, now that I think about, he’s got life figured out rather nicely. I sometimes get so caught up in trying to do new things that I forget that these simple everyday things are more than enough to satisfy me. So, I’m going to sign off and enjoy a ridiculously simple evening with my little family. One with no plans whatsoever and built entirely on instinct. Okay, so I may first be adopting a red panda, but also on instinct, because I really can’t think of a better way to thank them for the inspiration.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!