There is no arguing that BPZOO’s red panda family are among some of the most charismatic, adorable, and beloved animals in New Bedford. They are also working overtime as ambassadors to their species, inspiring the New Bedford community to care about red panda conservation efforts in the wild. Thanks to this community commitment, BPZOO has again been recognized as a Reforestation Sponsor of the Red Panda Network for a recent $5,000 donation. This donation was made in honor of International Red Panda Day on September 17, 2023. A day of celebration and education, inspired guests donated an impressive $500 which contributed to the Zoo’s 2023 Reforestation Sponsorship.
Founded in 2007, the Red Panda Network has become a world leader in efforts to save red pandas and their habitat. They use an integrated, landscape-level approach to conservation that is built on the support and participation of local communities. Their conservation programs extend to over one million acres of forest and 50% of Nepal’s red panda range. BPZOO has contributed $10,000 over the last two years helping to protect five acres of critical red panda habitat through purchasing, growing, and planting trees. The sponsorship also supports the salary of one local land steward in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in eastern Nepal a critical location for red panda conservation that has been heavily fragmented and degraded by deforestation as well as provides alternative and sustainable income opportunities for local families. With BPZOO’s continued support, the Red Panda Network will be able to establish a bio-bridge that connects the fragmented patches of Community Forest on the Nepal side with the protected areas in India.
In 2019, Buttonwood Park Zoo unveiled its first ever red panda habitat. Since then, thanks to the success of our Conservation Donation Kiosk and the commitment of our staff, we have donated $17,000 to the Red Panda Network. Resident red pandas, Jacob, Marie, and their cubs, serve as ambassadors for their species and together we will continue to inspire our guests and work to protect wildlife and wild places.
“BPZOO is proud to be part of a community that shares our deep commitment to conservation,” said Gary Lunsford, Director of Zoological Services. “It is through this shared value that we have again been recognized as a conservation partner to vital organizations like the Red Panda Network. I cannot thank our community enough for their efforts in making this happen.”
About Red Pandas
Red pandas are an endangered species endemic to the Himalayas in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and southern China. The global red panda population has declined by 50% in 20 years and there may be as few as 2,500 remaining in the wild. Habitat loss and fragmentation is the primary threat, and it is compounded by increasing human population, livestock herding, free-roaming dogs and disease, poaching and illegal trade, logging, world climate change, and inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations. While this sounds grim, there is hope for this species thanks to the dedication of AZA accredited facilities and their partner conservation organizations.