Red pandas are bamboo eaters native to Asia’s forest. These animals spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep aloft. The red panda is an endangered species with less than 10,000 (possibly as few as 2,500) of them in the wild. Their natural space is shrinking as more and more forests are destroyed by logging and the spread of agriculture.
The red panda’s ancient cousin once lived in the Western North Carolina region. Bristol’s Panda (Pristinailurus bristoli) is an ancient North American relative of the living red panda whose fossils have been discovered at the Gray Archaeological Site in the Southern Appalachian Mountains for Tennessee. Western North Carolina’s climate and ecosystem is almost identical to the lower mountain forests of Central Asia where red pandas currently live.