Friends from Sikkim: Red Panda

Sikkim’s got it right when it comes to choosing its state animal, the Red Panda. I mean, just look at it, it’s so cute! This small mammal—it is slightly larger than a domestic cat—was also the national animal of Sikkim back when it used to be a kingdom. This fiery animal is also where Mozilla’s browser Firefox got its name and logo from.

The Red Panda is also the official mascot of the annual Sikkim Red Panda Winter Carnival. In fact, there is a pretty big Red Panda sculpture right in the middle of the town in Gangtok, the state capital!

The Red Pandas are native to the eastern Himalayas. They live in high-altitude forests, and mostly survive on the tender leaves and shoots of bamboo. However, unlike Giant Pandas, they eat other foods [fruits, roots, eggs, and maybe a few insects] as well. Sadly, the Red Pandas are an at-risk species with fewer than 10,000 of these mammals left in the wild mostly due to habitat loss.

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