A pair of western red pandas, Ailurus fulgens fulgens
, prove that comfort is relative while napping high in a tree at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, in Washington DC. I suspected them to be western
red pandas (Ailurus fulgens fulgens
) based on color, and confirmed this through the international studbook on red pandas: www.rotterdamzoo.nl/import/assetmanager/1/5621/fulgensloc...
. Also according to the studbook their names should be Leo Mei and Xiao Mei, are both females, and were hand-reared :) The western subspecies differs from the Stayan's red panda, Ailurus fulgens stayani
, in being smaller and having a paler coat, and obviously living in the western part of the range. To me their facial coloration reminds me of a dog in its elderly years. Styan's are larger, with deeper reds and blacks, and a more prominent mask. Coat and size can still vary from one panda to another though, so this is not always a reliable method of ID on its own. The majority of red pandas in captivity are westerns. Red pandas are reportedly the only non-primate known that can taste artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame. This webpage has quite a bit of information on them: www.enotes.com/topic/Red_panda
Relevant info from studbook on these particular individuals: NZP-WASH - National Zoological Park - Wash, Washington, District of Columbia, USA 0521 F 10 Jun 2005 0117 0208 NZP-CRC 10 Jun 2005 113985 Birth Hand LEO MEI NZP-WASH 2 Oct 2005 113985 Transfer 0522 F 10 Jun 2005 0117 0208 NZP-CRC 10 Jun 2005 113986 Birth Hand XIAO MEI NZP-WASH 2 Oct 2006 113986 Transfer #455 in Explore, 2 May 2007