You may remember that in August last year two staff from the Wildlife Park undertook a sponsored walk up Skiddaw dressed as Red Pandas. Lauren Pickthall, (Carnivore Keeper) and Lucy Dunn (Education Coordinator) have been at it again and last month tackled Honister Slate Mine’s epic Via Ferrata Xtreme…dressed as Red Pandas. Lauren and Lucy have been raising awareness about these endangered animals and raising funds for the Red Panda Network.
There are thought to be just 2,500 Red Pandas left in the wild worldwide, following a decline of 50% in less than two decades. To coincide with International Red Panda Day (Saturday 21 September), Lauren and Lucy wanted a challenge that was a bit different to raise money.
As Red Pandas live in mountainous areas like the Eastern Himalayas and South Western China, they thought climbing the ladders and bridges on the steep rocks at Honister Slate Mine would definitely be unusual, especially when in Red Panda suits. As part of the Via Ferrata challenge, they also crossed the daunting Infinity Bridge, which is more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor.
The Wildlife Park has two resident Red Pandas, Mei Li (beautiful one) and Charu (graceful). Both are part of the European Endangered Species breeding programme and the money they raised will go directly to the Red Panda Network, which employs Forest Guardians to help conserve Red Pandas in their natural habitat.
Lauren and Lucy completed their challenge on a gloriously sunny day, which was a bit of a change from the wind and rain when they walked up Skiddaw the previous year. They both found the Via Ferrata quite scary, but hoped that by taking on the challenge whilst wearing their suits helped to make people more aware of the Red Panda and the risks that they face in the wild such as from the pet trade, poaching and deforestation.