Red pandas don their mittens for winter 

Red pandas don their mittens for winter 

There’s reason to celebrate these chilly winter days, with the recent gusty winds shedding leaves off trees at Melbourne Zoo revealing some of the zoo’s most elusive residents. 

Red pandas Roshani and Seba are all rugged up with their heavy red coats, bushy tails and soles of their feet covered in fur, which are often referred to as mittens. 

Melbourne Zoo carnivores keeper Jess Stockton said winter was the best time to come and see the Himalayan-native species, as Red pandas thrive in cold weather. 

“Our Red pandas are more visible than ever in the large Elm and Plane trees that have shed their leaves,” Ms Stockton said. “You can now clearly see them curled up sleeping in the forks of branches, munching on bamboo leaves, or skilfully climbing.” 

“If you look hard enough, you might even catch a glimpse of their furry ‘mittens’, which help them with insulation and to grip slippery, mossy branches.”

Fifteen-year-old great grandmother Roshani is the oldest female Red panda in Australasia. She shares her habitat with 12-year-old male Seba, who is known for his bold but gentle nature. 

Although Red pandas are a solitary species, the pair can sometimes be seen sitting close together high up in the trees at Melbourne Zoo. 

“In winter, Roshani and Seba are fond of curling up and sunbathing in sunny spots,” Ms Stockton said. “They often stretch their faces towards the sun and look absolutely gorgeous and serene.” 

The Red Panda is native to the Himalayas but is adored globally because of its endearing facial features, gentle nature, reddish-brown fur and long, fluffy tail. 

The species is classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, and its population is declining in the wild, with habitat destruction and hunting a continuing threat. •

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