Why redpandas?

Why red pandas? Well, first off it was most likely the only domain name left, and I am probably the least creative person possible.

Here are a few interesting facts, pulled from Wikipedia, to familiarize yourself with the Red Panda.

– Its Latin name is Ailurus fulgens (“shining cat,” from a Latinized form of the Greek – ailouros, “cat,” and the participial form of the Latin fulgere, “to shine”).

Shining cat? Really?? That is the best scientists could come up with?  My Latin is not that great, but I’m sure even I could have come up with something better, but kinda like domain names, maybe everything else was out…

– Other names include Bear Cat, Bright Panda, Common Panda, Fire Fox, Red Fox, Fox Bear, Himalayan Raccoon, Lesser Panda, Nigalya Ponya, Panda Chico, Panda Éclatant, Panda Rojo, Petit Panda, Poonya, Crimson Ngo, Red Cat, Sankam, Small Panda, Thokya, Wah, Wokdonka, Woker, and Vetri, and Ye.

Lesser Panda? Ouch, that hurts. Himalayan Raccoon? They arent even related to raccoons. Red Cat? I know the Latin name is hard to pronounce, but did we have to take the opposite route? Wokdonka? See, now you are finally trying…

-It has a “false thumb” that really is an extension of the bone of the wrist, permitting them to seize fruit.

Ok, now that’s pretty cool.

-In order to survive on its poor-quality diet, the Red Panda has to select high-quality sections of the bamboo plant such as the tender leaves and shoots in large quantities (over 1.5 kg of fresh leaves and 4 kg of fresh shoots daily) that pass through the digestive tract fairly rapidly so as to maximize nutrient intake.

Wow. Well I guess that leaves little time for hanging out with the ladies.

– Red Pandas usually seek compansionship only for mating from the end of December to the middle of February.

Oh I get it now. Yikes. That’s a tight window to get it on. At least they are predictable.

-The term fire-fox, as used to describe the Red Panda, has been propagated by its use as the logo for the web browser Mozilla FireFox. The old Chinese designation of Red Panda as “fire fox “refers to the Red Panda’s fur color.

That is random as hell. But at least the company didn’t name the product Mozilla Wokdonka, I suppose.

My first contact with a Red Panda was in the Maxwell Zoo in England in 1993. Other than a visit to the Bronx Zoo in elementary school (man, did those polar bears look out of place…), this was the first time I had seen so many creatures in person from around the globe. One of these was, yes, the Red Panda, which stuck with me because it looked cool and I was fascinated that a panda could be, despite my teacher’s instruction in five years of public school education, red and so small. So before our group left a few of my friends headed to the gift shop and perused through, and while they ended up buying water guns or monkeys that made noises when you squeezed them, I walked out with a stuffed Red Panda tucked under my arm. I think this is the only stuffed animal I have ever bought, and while I must have had scores of them at home, they were mostly gifts from relatives and friends. The Red Panda was my travel partner for the rest of that trip (my first one without parents), and I enjoyed its company as well as proudly describing its origins (since most people thought I was a sketchy kid with a stuffed raccoon, which I wasn’t, I was a sketchy kid with a stuffed animal no one had heard of).

Well, many years later, as I took off for college, I rediscovered the Red Panda, and decided once again it would accompany me. It sat on my desk shelf for freshman year, where it collected name tags from orientation, college pins, a green and purple lei from some theme night, among other knick knacks. People still didnt know what it was, even at such a prestigious university, or maybe they couldn’t come to the realization why I just couldn’t be like everyone else and bring a poster of Beers of the World to decorate my personal space with…

As I visited the DC Zoo this fall, I once again came across the Red Panda. What had seemed so obscure to me as a child is now an attraction in the center of the zoo, and while the regular pandas are stamped on the back of every Metrocard and recieve the most publicity, the Red Pandas attracted as much attention by the kids, who were drawn in by their anomaly, activity, and accessibility. Sure, now, as my friend’s girlfriend said, “Eww..they look weird and scary,”, but as so often happens, so do many things as we become adults. We lose our sense of wonder and move on to the pandas and become enamored with the next big thing, what we supposedly came for. But I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched the little kids linger at the cages as their parents moved on if they, too, might walk out with a stuffed Red Panda under their arm, like I did so long ago…

Click on the pics below for a closer look…

Red PandaRed PandaRed Panda

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