By Kevin Slater
The first International Red Panda Day took place in 2010. Since then, the Red Panda Network has continually strived to improve upon the foundations stipulated by the day – to encourage conservation of the shrinking habitat that red pandas call home, to educate people around the world about this unique animal, and to support Red Panda Network field efforts in Nepal. In all of these respects, the fourth International Red Panda Day was successful. Dozens of schools and zoos around the world participated in celebrations and activities to promote the continued protection of red pandas.
Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana, was one of several zoos to participate on the “official” day (International Red Panda Day is celebrated the third Saturday of September). Indiana’s oldest zoo, Potawatomi houses over 400 animals on its forested acres and is located just minutes away from the University of Notre Dame. Three red pandas reside in the zoo – a mother, a father, and their recently born cub. Different activities were set up throughout the zoo, such as a bamboo maze, red panda masks, and information about red pandas. Visitors to the zoo were free to participate in these perks, and, in doing so, gained an increased respect for the red panda.
Participation is key – Red Panda Network continually strives not only to assist in the conservation of the red panda in Nepal and other countries, but to foster a respect for these rare, yet fleeting, animals throughout the world. Of course, there is no need to wait for the next International Red Panda Day to contribute. There are plenty of opportunities to raise awareness in your own community throughout the year.