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

A red panda was hit by a falling tree

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

A red panda feeding her injured friend

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

The injured red panda was 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:

Cear feeding pandas medicine

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.

The panda coming to his friend's aid

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 panda overpowering the carer

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.



30 thought on “A Red Panda’s Rescue Mission”
  1. Panda’s are such lovable critters, everyone loves the panda bears. I have read there in danger from man We are destroying there habitat , harming them in other ways.
    Very heart warming story of the Panda protecting the other one from man trying to help, shows how loyal and protective they really are.

  2. Hello there,
    usually when I see things about pandas, my first response is to say: Awwuh.

    But this is a sad article. 🙁 We humans don’t know how much impact we have on these animals lives, they have feelings just like us.. yet most of humanity doesn’t take that into consideration.

    1. Yes, all sentient beings have similar feelings. However, there was a time some human beings didn’t even believe other group of human beings had same feelings like themselves …. that was how genocide of native populations and slavery occurred in many places in the world throughout history.

    2. True we seem to see more and more examples of this through photos and stories like this of animals and birds. Probably all sentient life has a connection.

      1. Since time no-beginning, our consciousness has assumed all kinds of roles, being emotionally charged humans, being instinct motivated animals, being mind powerful celestial beings. But we forget most, if not all, previous experiences and, during each incarnation, believe this must be the only conscious existence we’ve ever had and will not have it again.

  3. Hey, Awen! Very interesting and heartfelt article on the red pandas. I really enjoyed the pictures and your original style of writing.
    Regarding China in general, what would you say is the best time to visit Beijing? I’m from Brazil and I have had some invites to go to China on business, but I never really got around to it.

    1. Hi Daniel, I think the best season for Beijing is autumn. Spring has sandstorms, summer is too hot while the winter scene there is utterly bleak.

      Best wishes for your China trip ^_^

  4. Hello, thanks for so well written article and funny pictures.

    I think these animals are so cute as giant pandas.
    I never saw them in a zoo. Overall I do not like zoo, because animals are constricted and they do not have freedom.
    Looking from another side, zoo’s do research job and can save endangered species.
    I saw red pandas on YouTube, where they played in snow.
    It was something.
    I think that you’ve done a great job, informing people about these precious animals.
    All the best to you, Nemira.

  5. Thanks for sharing this story about red pandas, I am sorry to hear about Clyde and really admire what Little Yellow Girl did to attempt at not only feeding but trying to remove the tree from Clyde.

    It’s lovely how deep the bond between animals are, I really hope we humans have the same compassion towards each other.

    1. Yes, we humans think we deserve to rule the planet and dismiss other species as feelingless savages. That may not be the truth.

  6. I so love animal websites and I’ve seen a red panda at an open zoo here in the UK. They are such lovely creatures and appear to be very shy.
    What a sad and poignant story of a red panda attempting to help her injured friend. It made me well up. Then we see a similar situation with one panda coming to the aid of another. They obviously didn’t appreciate that the handler was trying to help them.
    Upon reading this post I have come to the conclusion that pandas are gregarious creatures. This made me think back to my visit to the zoo in the UK. The panda I saw was on his own. This was probably not in his best interest as they obviously like each others company? Thanks for the post. Ches

    1. You’ve got a very good point. These creatures committed no crime but have received a life sentence and are held in solitary confinement.

      Their brains may not as developed as humans, but their feeling are not less comprehensive, as far as I can tell.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful article and introducing me to red pandas. I was sadden to learn that Clyde passed away, but what a loving sweetheart Little Yellow Girl was to care for him.
    I have been an animal lover all my life and became a Vegan about 20 years ago. We humans don’t need animal protein and are actually much healthier without it.

    1. We humans exploit animals in many ways. Apart from eating their meat, we also peel off their skins to make clothings, shoes, bags and furnitures – that is how the red pandas have experienced. Their beautiful fur attracts some greedy human hearts.

  8. Hi there,
    I’ve never heard of red pandas before reading this article. I always find it interesting to find out about animals and how they behave and interact with each other. They seem like such interesting animals and its a shame they are endangered. Its shows how animals can be much smarter and more caring then we may think, maybe even more than some humans.

    1. I believe most species have quite developed consciousness, intelligence and feelings just like we humans do. Remember in the history how some humans regard other humans as lesser beings with no consciousness, intelligence and feelings? Now most people know it is a wrong consumption. But many of us are still holding the similar arrogant attitude towards aminals.

  9. This is amazing. It’s a shame that the red panda died but it really is heart warming to hear about animals caring for each other like this.
    I didn’t know what a red panda was until they got one at the Pittsburgh Zoo. It’s our favorite attraction and my daughter loves it.
    They look so calm I wish they would let people feed them.

    1. Red pandas are very adorable but since they are not typically sociable like black & white pandas, they do not draw too much human attention. But anyone gets to know them will love them.

  10. Dear Awen,
    I was completely glued to reading everything about this topic on Red Pandas because yes they are as cute as Pandas too, but because I love animals and am eager to learn more about these beautiful creatures too.
    I cried at the point where the Red Panda died and the other Red Panda was so depressed enough to attack the rescue worker and demand Cycle was returned back. It is almost like an expression: If you lay your hand on her, I will fight you and kill you. Sure, to us it is a form of aggression and protective nature when animals are defending their own, but to them they are just thinking of the love/compassion they have for their own kind.
    I sometimes question myself, Since animals do not have the mind to reason, why is it that we as humans cannot be as genuine and kinder to other humans just in the same way these animals are? Oh, how far we have fallen from showing true affection.
    I also cannot believe how someone told me that animals can’t have emotions/feelings either. They do, they feel pain much as we do.
    Thanks for such a great insightful and informative Blog Post. 🙂
    Looking forward to more. 🙂
    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon,

    1. Angel, you truly have a heart of an angel. Yes, as you said, animals have emotions and feelings just like we humans do. Some people tend to think only humans can experience emotions and feelings because we have language. But the truth is emotion and feel do not need language to articulate. The animals’ pain for the loss of the loved ones and their anger over mistreatment can be as strong as we humans. Like you, I’m still thinking about Yellow Girl from time to time and wonder how she is coping now.

  11. I was research about red panda related news. Thanks for your extremely useful info, particularly the last part about their their life habits
    🙂 I care for these lovely creatures very much. I was seeking this certain info for
    a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  12. I think more work should be done to protect these lovely poor creatures before they disappear all together.

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