This marks the end of our Uncommon Creatures adventure this month. To say goodbye, we have this little red panda, which is better known, but becoming increasingly more uncommon. Just last year, these poor little creatures moved to “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This cute critter is also referred to as a lesser panda, red bear-cat, and red cat-bear. Those latter terms, I guess, are similar to the Crayola® conundrum as kids when trying to decipher whether to use orange-red vs. red-orange. And after all that naming fuss, it’s not a cat or a bear at all. Though it has been classified as a relative of the panda and raccoon, its currently considered part of its own unique family: the Ailuridae.
Though classified as a carnivore, they don’t really eat meat, preferring to snack on bamboo and the occasional insect. In an odd 2009 study in The Journal of Heredity, it was discovered red pandas also like fake sugar like Nutrasweet and Equal. This is apparently significant in that it makes the red panda the only non-primate species who can taste aspartame. It was previously thought the only animals who could taste this questionable artificial sweetener were Old World monkeys, apes, and well, of course, humans.
Red pandas are about the same size as a domestic cat, but their long raccon-like tails can add as much as 18 inches (45.7cm) to their length. They also like to escape zoos and have escaped from many, including a zoo in Rotterdam in 1978. Even though the poor creature was found dead shortly after the escape, locals continue to report sightings of the critter. It was believed by researchers that people expected to see a red panda, so they saw one, leading them to name the phenomenon the Red Panda Effect. And so concludes our doodlewash adventure of Uncommon Creatures this month. Stay tuned tomorrow for a brand new adventure as we go on another journey together in April!
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Teal, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink and second pen with black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal