Henry Vilas Zoo celebrates International Red Panda Day

Henry Vilas Zoo’s two red pandas, Tai and Tarrei, made an appeareance Saturday for International Red Panda Day.

Profits made from Red Panda Day will benefit the Red Panda Network, which works to empower and motivate locals to protect the pandas’ forests and the pandas themselves.

Zookeeper Tara Lee said the main threats to red pandas are deforestation, poaching and most of all, the pet trade.

“(What) the average person can do for red panda conservation is to spread awareness that they do not make good pets,” Lee said. “One of the largest threats to red pandas currently is the illegal pet trade because everyone thinks they’re amazingly cute, which they are, but they do not make good pets.”

Lee said that having red pandas indicates a healthy ecosystem but added that the red panda population has dropped from 10,000 to 2,500 in recent years. The Henry Vilas Zoo hopes to repopulate its own red panda exhibit, but as for now, Tai and Tarrei are happy with each other.

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