A photo of a red panda in China | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Santa Barbara Zoo announced the arrival of its newest resident this week: a red panda.

In a statement Wednesday, zoo spokesperson Jennifer Zacharias said the male red panda arrived from Trevor Zoo at Millbrook School in New York and “is currently living behind the scenes (not visible to the public) in a spacious habitat while his new permanent home is being renovated.” The public will be formally introduced to the zoo’s bushy-tailed bamboo eater later this year, Zacharias said.

The red panda cub — who was born July 2022 and named Sandy by his previous zoo — will live in the under-construction habitat across from the flamingos, according to the zoo, and it is possible another red panda will join him in the future.

Known for their reddish-brown fur and bear-like faces, red pandas are an endangered species due to habitat loss. Only 10,000 of them are left in the wild and can be found in various regions of China, Nepal, and northern Burma.

Despite their name and appearance, red pandas are not closely related to giant pandas — and were, in fact, classified and named before giant pandas — being more closely related to raccoons. The name panda is believed to come from the Nepali word ponya, meaning “bamboo eater.”


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