PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the first time ever, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has a red panda.
Two-year-old Xia comes from a zoo in North Dakota.
Zookeeper Ray Bamrick designed a jungle gym of wood, which helps her work up a healthy appetite.
“Eighty percent what they eat is leafy plants, primarily bamboo,” Bamrick says. “But they’ll eat mushrooms and fungi and come to the ground in search of fruits and berries.”
But her numbers in the wild are dwindling.
“There’s about 2,500 left in the wild,” her handler says. “And they’re found in southern China, and the Himalayan Mountain areas. So they’re in about five different nations.”
Bamrick says she behaves like a house cat, friendly on her own terms. Despite her appearance, the red panda is not related to cats, raccoons, or foxes.
For that matter, the zookeeper says, “It’s not a panda. It’s been classified with the giant pandas, and classified with raccoons and bears. They’ve kind of settled on their own group. If you look back tens of millions of years, they have common ancestry, but today they’re one of a kind.”