A friend in need is a friend indeed, that is true in the human world and also true in the world of red pandas.
A Red Panda Hit by Tree in Earthquake
In a 2014 earthquake in Yunnan, a red panda named Cycle in Puer Sunriver National Park was hit by a falling tree.
For a day or so, the wildlife protection workers had no idea where Cycle might be, until they noticed the unusual behaviour exhibited by another red panda called Little Yellow Girl (小黄妹).
Little Yellow Girl is a good girl, but that morning she had a nasty fight with her mate over a pear. After exchanging some heavy punches, she grabbed the fruit and ran away. Previously, she showed no interest in pears, apples, bananas or tomatoes distributed by the workers. She always prefers wild fruits.
The workers thought something was a bit strange, so one of them ran after the Yellow Girl to find out what was going on……
A Red Panda Fed Her Injured Friend with Fruits
In a location about 2km away from the congregation ground where the red pandas receive their daily handouts, Little Yellow Girl stopped before a falling tree and fed Cycle the pieces of pear with her own mouth.
Seeing the injured was not responsive, Little Yellow Girl repeatedly made “haha” sound and patted Cycle’s body with her paws, trying hard to wake her friend up.
The Injured Red Panda Found Dead
10 minutes late, a rescue team arrived and Little Yellow Girl swiftly fled the scene but kept monitoring the situation from a distance.
The team found Cycle was dead. But from a large number of fruit remains and scratch marks on the ground, they believe Cycle did not die immediately after the strike. On the chunk of the tree that was on Cycle’s body, scratching and biting marks were also visible – clearly, Little Yellow Girl made a heroic attempt to remove the falling tree in order to free her friend.
The Red Panda Refused to Let Her Dead Friend Be Taken Away
When the rescue workers placed the dead Cycle into a plastic bag and prepared to leave the site, a drama developed. Little Yellow Girl darted from a distance towards the bag and clutched it with her teeth, refusing to let her friend be taken away.
It was quite the battle between a big man and a small animal. The bag was torn and the man’s shoes and trousers were also full of bite marks from the red panda.
Cycle was eventually gone. But questions remain: How much some animals may value their friendship ….
Here is another incident about two giant pandas who helped each other in their fight against their antagonist.
United We Fight, For a Common Course of … not to Take Medicine
This is what happened in China’s Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre:
One day, the centre decided it was time for pandas to get some medicine, so a staff paid a visit to the pandas’ residence.
Unfortunately, in the pandas’ opinion, medicine isn’t as tasty as bamboo, so they decided to decline the offer.
But the staff insisted they must follow the medical advice and successfully held a panda in his arm and prepared to execute forced feeding.
Instead of using this opportunity to run away, another panda weighed in, literally, demanding the staff to leave its friend alone.
The staff, of course, had his job to do and his principles to adhere to, so decided to ignore the demand. And that was when the panda’s physical harassment escalated, as it determined to press the staff into submission, also literally.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, regardless the friend is a red panda or a panda in black & white.
Background Information on Red Pandas
Where Do Red Pandas Live
Red pandas are native to the sunny side of the Himalayas as well as Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in China’s southwest, where the forests are dense and the sea level is at 2,200m to 4,800m, which is an environment most suitable for their growth and reproduction.
The official Chinese name for the red panda is xiaoxiongmao (小熊猫, meaning small panda), but in Sichuan they are more commonly addressed as Nine Section Wolf (九节狼) while in Yunnan they are known as Golden Dog (金狗), referring to the beauty of their colour.
These adorable creatures are nightlife lovers. Every day they sleep in until the sun is about to go down, only by then they start to slowly get up. The first thing they do in the day is to take a dry bath: they lick their front paws to make them slightly wet, then use the paws to rub their backs, tummies and sides. When on the day they feel they deserve a body massage, they would also rub their back and belly against a tree or a rock.
After this cleaning ritual, it’s time for body stretches. They do so by practicing running on branches and jumping between trees until they spot some food. With the trophy, they sit down enjoying their breakfast under the cooling night sky. An exciting day thus begins.
By any standard, dear red pandas are courteous folks and always speak softly. When they talk to each other or argue with other beings, they just gently twitter or give a little whistle. Bark, howl, scream or squeak are not their style.
But still, they are not perfect. For one thing, these guys are not team players and don’t believe in family values. Whenever possible, they prefer to live in a single-occupant household usually located high up on a branch or deep in a tree hollow. Most red panda couples live separate lives straight after the wedding night and the estranged husbands seldom show any interest in their own offspring. So as you can imagine, red panda communities are full of single mothers.
However, they do have a strong faith in friendship apparently. Which is admirable.
What Do Red Pandas Eat
Red pandas are distant relatives of giant pandas and share a similar taste in food with the bamboo dish being at the top of their daily menu. Unlike those savage species who use mouths to get food directly, red pandas put food into their mouth with their front paws. When drinking soup, instead of lowering the head and stretching the neck to reach a pond, they spoon water with their paw and then lick the liquid from the paw.
Apart from bamboo which comprises two-thirds of their daily intake, their other favourite food includes fruits, flowers, mushrooms, roots, acorns, lichen and tender grasses. But that doesn’t mean they are strict vegetarians; when it is convenient, they would happily feast on small mammals and birds. And they have no objection to eating fish and insects if they can easily get them.
Why Are Red Pandas Endangered
Red pandas’ biggest enemies are snow leopards, martens and humans who not only hunt them for their coats, which are used to make hats and clothing but destroy or damage their homeland. An estimate puts the current population figure at 10,000 worldwide, with a sign of further decrease.
Since 2008, the species has been classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, and now China has established 35 protected areas covering about 42.4% of the red panda’s native habitat. One of them is Puer Sunriver National Park where Cycle once called home and where its loyal friend Little Yellow Girl is still calling it home.