Goodbye 2018…and Hello 2019!

Happy New Year from Christine, David, Artie and Riley! Here’s hoping 2019 is a year full of love, laughter and friendship!

It’s taken a while but below find the annual video sharing the most memorable moments of 2018. Here’s hoping 2019 will just be as wonderful!

I want to thank you all for coming on the journey with us!

Thanks for all your support,

Christine x

A Close Up with Red Pandas

Recently a friend shared a picture of Red Pandas being fed grapes on my Facebook wall. It made me reminiscent of when I fed Red Pandas in 2010 at Paradise Wildlife Park. I paid £99 for 30 minutes with their then Red Pandas, Ros and TJ. So I decided to write a post about the experience.

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Feeding a Red Panda

Looking back at the memory I believe I was very fortunate to have got so close to one of my favourite animals. As you can imagine the 30 minutes went past so quickly. Part of the experience was to collect the pandas’ dinner, a bowl of fruit, vegetables, pellets and panda cake, which is a mixture of essential nutrients added to their meals. We then visited the Red Panda enclosure. The Red Panda’s habitat had tall trees in which they could rest among the boughs or seek privacy from one of their nest boxes on a purposely built platform.

On our arrival both Red Pandas were looking eagerly for their lunch. It gave me such a buzz seeing both cute faces peering down at me. Ros seemed more used to human contact than TJ, who was much more reserved.

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Feeding Red Pandas

While I fed each panda, the zoo keeper, Matt gave informative facts about Red Pandas, where they come from etc. I was surprised to learn that they have adverse effects to anesthetic, so any operation carries a higher risk for Red Pandas.

After feeding slices of pears and apples to the pandas, it was time for them to have their favourite food, young shoots of bamboo! I held the leafy branch up to TJ while Ros bravely came down to feast on the lower leaves. I even got to stroke Ros. I was ecstatic! I had read before the encounter that touching was not allowed, but I was offered the chance to feel how coarse and dense a Red Panda’s fur really is. They need the insulation for the cold climes of the Himalayas.

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Feeding bamboo to Red Pandas

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Stroking a Red Panda

More recently there are many other UK zoos and wildlife parks offering the chance to meet their Red Pandas. Paradise Park in Cornwall have a similar experience where the Red Pandas can even sit happily on your lap. Something to think about in the future. A possible present for me next year David? :p

I hope you have enjoyed my reminiscing? Has there been a time when you came face to face with your favourite animal? Do share your experiences with us below.

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

P.S. If you are interested in more information on the Red Panda, a past post, My Love for the Red Panda, has many facts about the history of the Red Panda, anatomy and conservation.

 

My Love for the Red Panda.

‘Panda’ from the Nepalese, nigalya ponya meaning bamboo footed.

23666_10150140661800271_1831177_nThe red panda was the first ‘panda’ to be know to the West as early as the 1800’s! In 1825 Frenchman Frederic Cuvier published an account describing the red panda and named the species, Ailurus fulgens fulgens, or shining cat.

By the 1840’s English naturalist Brain Houghton Hodgson had written a detailed study on the red panda or ‘Wah’. Focusing on habitat and diet.

It was not until 1869 that the giant panda was identified. However to distinguish the species, the first panda was renamed the lesser panda.

39755_425944215911_56676235911_4773054_7286609_nIt’s been eight years since I saw my first red panda, having been oblivious to their existence until then. For me it was love-at-first-sight! They seem to be a number of animals all rolled into one, which has caused countless debates as to what family or classification of animal the red panda truly is.

Are they bear-cats? They are cat sized (always a plus in my book) and rather bear-like, though they are not part of the ursidae family.

They bark like a dog: There is little published evidence but the red panda is highly susceptible to diseases like canine distemper.

Their vocalisations sound similar to birds:

A living fossil: Recent DNA studies have concluded that the red panda is in its own family of the Ailuridae, being part of the super-family the Musteloidea, (weasels, skunks and raccoons).

The only similarity with giant pandas is their diet (bamboo) and the false thumb, an elongated wrist bone that acts like a sixth digit. It helps with holding food and climbing, especially head first!

Red pandas are found largely in temperate, deciduous forests, from Nepal to China and Myanmar. There are two subspecies, Ailurus fulgens fulgens and Ailurus fulgens styani. Their red fur, one of the densest of all mammals (for insulation), is perfect camouflage during autumn.

Due to living in Himalayan regions, red pandas prefer cooler days. Winter is the best time to find them active.

Although they have a penchant for bamboo, eating up to 45% of their body weight a day, red pandas are classed as carnivores. They eat fruit, insects, eggs and small birds.

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Feeding Red Pandas at Paradise Wildlife Park

Red pandas have a slow metabolism due to being unable to digest bamboo properly, hence being rather sedentary. I’ve noticed many zoo guests just walk past red panda enclosures because they have been asleep up a tree. In most cases you need to visit several times in the hope of catching one awake. Being a crepuscular animal doesn’t help either as they are more active at dawn and dusk.

They are solitary animals, only coming together for mating. The female is only receptive one day a year. The breeding season is usually January to April with birth around June/July. The litter usually consists of one to four cubs, but usually two.

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Photo by David Evans

In 2010 I was honoured to witness Chester Zoo’s female red panda, Lushui move her cub, Lily from nest to nest. They do this to avoid predators. Cubs come out of the nest from around three months, and stay with their mothers for about a year before finding their own territory. Their lifespan in captivity can reach 15 years.

However beautiful red pandas are, they are classified as endangered by the IUCN. The main threats to them are deforestation, hunting, poaching and illegal trade. In China there is a traditional custom dating back to around the 13th century where red panda pelts are given to newlyweds as a sign of ‘good luck’. Red pandas are also predated upon by snow leopards and martens.

Conservation: Exact numbers of red pandas in Asia are relatively unknown, estimates say up to 10,000 adults. There is a worldwide effort to protect the red panda and its habitat. In many of the countries where the red panda is found, their habitat has been designated areas of protection, though these areas are hard to police. The Red Panda Network liaise with ‘forest guardians’ to educate and highlight the need to conserve red panda habitat. They are also working directly with the creators of the Panchthar-Ilam-Singhalila (PIS corridor), which will be the first Red Panda Protected Forest.

In captivity there are two long term initiatives for breeding, the Red Panda Species Survival Programme (SSP) and the European Endangered Species Programme (EES) which offers a ‘stud book’ of potential mates.

Popular culture: There have been a number of depictions of red pandas on many platforms over the years. Another name for the red panda is the Fire Fox. Mozilla use this name for their web browser, though their logo is ambiguous.

Cinema: In 2008 DreamWorks released Kung Fu Panda with Shifu, being a lose representation of a red panda! A year earlier an animated Barbie film, the Island Princess had a red panda as a friendly aide.

In 2013 Pocket Gems released a game called Animal Adventure with a red panda as one of the main characters.

14115498_10153971399038869_7066728288936528819_oThe future…is still uncertain.

At the time of writing, the WWF have announced that the giant panda’s status has improved from endangered to vulnerable. Hopefully the red panda being under the ‘umbrella’ of conservational efforts for the giant panda, will start to feel the effects of these protection methods soon?

 

And finally: Sadly, earlier this year, the Red Panda Network announced that poaching of the red panda had increased in 2016! Their annual International Red Panda Day (17th September 2016) will focus on anti-poaching initiatives.

The road ahead may still be long but there is hope for the future of the red panda. Conservation efforts are starting to produce results for not only the giant panda but tigers also, why not for the red panda? They have so much going for them. To me they are sweet, endearing animals, they are all superstars, none other than Ming Ming!

Thanks for reading.

Christine x


Further reading:

Angela Glatston: Red Panda: Biology and Conservation of the First Panda.

Whence the Red Panda? Flynn JJ, Nedbal MA, Dragoo JW, Honeycutt RL.

http://redpandanetwork.org/red_panda/about-the-red-panda/

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/red-panda

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_panda

If you have been inspired by what you have read, then why not continue the message? You can join in with this years International Red Panda Day at your local animal park/zoo.

Book of Mysteries.

The 30th October 2013 was my 37th birthday!

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I spent the evening mostly on my own (as David’s car was broken… something to do with the clutch and he was stuck at his mums!)

In the evening I wallowed in a hot bath, listened to Mozart, while reading William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ on my Kindle and sipping JP Chenet’s wine. Lordy I sound all cultured, but in reality I was just reading, listening to Classic FM and relaxing after a full dinner!

The day had started with a rush. I opened my birthday cards from my friends and family, said thank you to all the lovely birthday messages on my Facebook wall and then had to get the 79 bus into work to the Royal Liverpool Hospital. I must thank my boss, Julie for buying me a lovely Costa latte in the morning and later on that afternoon, shared with me a bottle of white, Stowell’s ‘colombard’ wine at a local pub. I think the pub was called ‘The Old Fort’?

I must say I smelled gorgeous all day as David had bought me a gift set of Thierry Mugler’s ‘Alien‘. I decided to not wear my ‘work’ clothes today and so I donned a favourite dress and my jacket. Work went fast enough. Julie and I worked on her report for the Royal and their compliance with the EU regulation on Safer Sharps. I really enjoyed typing the diction from Julie. I shall miss working with her when I finish work at the Royal Liverpool tomorrow. 😦

Getting home for 4pm, I opened my other presents from David’s family and marvelled at the delights. I got a lovely set of The Body Shop, White Musk fragrance and a Build a Bear ‘Red Panda!‘ called ‘Lily’. I was overjoyed!!!

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I ordered a curry, from Saffronmy favorite Indian restaurant in Liverpool! I requested the vegetable Shahi and my mum had the chicken Korma. Poor David was left at his mums and missed out on sharing my birthday with me… 😦

What made my night, was when the takeaway arrived, I was asked by name. I approached the front door and the delivery man (I don’t even know his name!) said, ‘happy birthday!’ He gave me a hug and said ‘thank you’ for all the lovely comments I post on their Just Eat account! The comments I feel are all justified as they cook some fantastic food!! He said I had free bhajis, popadoms and sauces with my order! I was quite overwhelmed and felt so appreciated as a customer! I love Saffron all the more!! 🙂

After gorging myself on hot, spicey food and pampering myself in fragrances, my mum wished me a ‘happy birthday’ and presented me with a cake. I think my cat Evie wanted to ‘gatecrash’ my birthday as she was prominent in the pictures. 🙂 lol.

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Even though I was at work for most of the day, hardly spent it with David. I feel blessed to have had the lovely messages from the people I cherish most ‘special in my life.’ I thank each and every one of you (you all know who you are!) for making me feel loved.

Christine xx

Too Much of a Good Thing…

…you can never get enough!

Here’s video and more pictures of the International Red Panda Day at Welsh Mountain Zoo… Enjoy!

International Red Panda Day 2013!

21st September 2013 was The Red Panda Network’s: International Red Panda Day.

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I knew The Welsh Mountain Zoo was celebrating the event so I managed to get David to agree and on Saturday, early morning we headed for north Wales and the A55. The one and a half hours travel from Liverpool passed by quickly as a warm Autumnal sun shone down upon us and the green of the Welsh hills seemed all the more greener!

We arrived at the zoo at 10am and subsequently made our way to the Red Panda enclosure, their enclosure at present is only temporary as a new one is being built for them. I was glad to hear this as the cage was small and the fence was difficult for my camera to focus through. However, Ming Ming as usual was running around the enclosure, open mouth panting. His female companion was asleep in a nest box at the top of the cage.

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In celebration of International Red Panda day, David donned on a panda onesie and posed in front of the Red’s enclosure! He did get a few strange looks from the other zoo guests!

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Back to the Red Pandas and after taking an abundant video and camera footage of them, David exclaimed, ‘there’s three of them! There’s a baby!’ Needless to say I was all excited! The three month cub kept poking it’s head out of the nest and looking at the world outside. It won’t be long before he/she will be brave enough to venture out itself.

On our second visit to the Red Panda enclosure after taking in the Penguin Parade, David remarked that there was not just one baby but two! Two cubs for Ming Ming! I was overjoyed! We stayed for the 2pm panda talk and even had a nice chat to their keeper.

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The 2013 International Red Panda day turned out to be very enjoyable. Wales was bathed in a glorious late rush from Summer, the Red Pandas were energetic (unlike most Red’s just asleep in a tree all day), and then there was the addition of the two cubs! I came away from the zoo still in love with Red Pandas as I ever was. They are definitely a species worth fighting for!

Thrigby Tales.

Day Four:

Today, though David and I were both tired from all the days out we have had over the weekend. We ended the short break in the style of how we used to holiday, by cramming in as much as possible to the day!

After our light breakfast, and I mean light as David doesn’t eat breakfast! We said our farewell to Dawn and checked out of the B&B. We made our way to Norwich Cathedral and got some nice pictures with lovely blue sky above!

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We then headed further east to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, as we wanted to update our zoo website, and this animal park was one we hadn’t visited before.

I was a bit depressed at the state of the big cat enclosures. They were all made of wire mesh which wasn’t very good for photography. The Swamp House and small cat enclosures were better though. We had lunch besides the Red Panda enclosure and saw one of their Reds. He was a sorry sight! The poor little fellow had had half of his body shaved and his poor little tail was a thin wisp of a thing. To me he looked like he was trying to be a lion with his mane. I just wanted to cuddle the little fellow!

The pinnacle of the visit was our trip to the gift shop. On approaching the manor house I said to David, ‘I doubt I’ll get any Red Panda cuddlies here.’ Then lo and behold as we walked through the entrance! There sitting on a shelf right opposite the door was four huge Red Panda toys! The biggest I’ve seen! My eyes widened in excitement and I just had to buy one for my collection at whatever cost! I won’t tell you how much he was but I have purchased three Red Panda cuddly toys over the weekend and spent almost £60!! Yes, there is no hope for me, I am crazy! 😀

So on our return journey of four and a half hours across country, I sat cuddling with Roz, my big Red Panda toy!

We have been so very lucky with the weather this weekend as it has only rained when we have been in the car.

Sitting in slow moving traffic around Birmingham I felt my spirits sag as we drew ever closer home and back to reality. It has been a much needed break away from renovating the house and the drudgery of work. It almost felt like we were the carefree Christine and David of old. I go back to work on Wednesday, and I expect that to be a hectic stress filled day, but I have to pay for my Red Panda toys somehow!! 😀

Back to the Herd!

Day two.

A very tired Christine is updating this blog tonight.

This morning I awoke at 6.30am with the sun blazing into the bedroom. Breakfast was a jovial and friendly affair, with us talking to Gill about our love of visiting zoos, my passion for Red Pandas and the many street art exhibitions we have seen throughout the UK. After 9am we reluctantly left the B&B and headed towards Colchester Zoo.

Today has been a long day, of walking around the Zoo for hours, looking at all the animals and catching the Stand Tall giraffes. We saw the Red Pandas and Binturong, watched a bird of prey display and caught a glimpse of the impressive Amur Leopard!

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The weather today has been much better, with lots of sunshine, though the wind was quite brisk at times.

Then after 3pm David and I, tired from all the walking, headed back up to Norwich for the two night stay at 175 Newmarket Road B&B. Dawn welcomed us in and showed us to our room for the two nights. She was very helpful asking if we knew what places to go and eat.

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After 5.30pm we headed back out, and went to the Raj of India restaurant for a curry. I had a vegetable dupiaza and David the chicken biryani. It was lovely and the service was commendable too. I loved the little warm towels given at the end of the meal to wipe your hands on. It was a nice touch!

Now back at the B&B I have had a nice bath, sitting with a cup of tea and feeling the ache of a headache. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a migraine, for tomorrow we are visiting Banham Zoo for the first time, and yes more Red Pandas!!

Night!

Very Distracted!

I don’t know what’s up with me today but I can’t seem to be able to concentrate or motivate myself! I must be thankful for being half packed for my much needed weekend away to the East coast of England starting this Friday!!

Last year I had booked a five day holiday to Norfolk but with my father’s sudden illness and then subsequent passing meant I had to cancel. 😦 This year I had already booked a one nights stay in a farmhouse not far from Colchester as I intend to visit the ‘Stand Tall‘ exhibition of painted giraffes at the zoo. With my boss at the Royal Liverpool Hospital being on holiday for two weeks I decided to try and extend the one nights stay to three!!

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I managed to get my own way, and booked another two nights this time in a B&B not far from Norwich, Norfolk. I will get there eventually! I intend to visit Banham Zoo to see their collection, as well as their Red Panda pair but then I don’t know what else to do. Go to other zoos in the region or visit a few sights in Norwich like the cathedral?

I usually have a whole itinerary written down by now, but as the extra two nights were just decided upon I am in a flurry as to what and where to visit. I also keep checking the weather forecast daily as most of what I want to do is mainly outdoors and is weather dependent. Unfortunately it looks like this lovely sunny ‘late summer’ weather we are having doesn’t look like it is going to last into next week.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed with me that the weather holds for the weekend and I look forward to sharing with you all my pictures and video. 🙂

Christine x

I just want to Cry… :(

This weekend we were making the final ‘push’ so to speak on the house. It’s been well over a  year since we bought the place and after all the work done on it (new roof, front and back doors, replaced bedroom wall, outhouse demolished and new carpets, painting and decorating,) I thought we were nearing completion.

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Yesterday, Saturday we spent nine hours on wallpapering the feature wall in the dining room with the Sophie Conran wallpaper I bought last year!

Today I wanted to put up the black glass dining table I had also bought last year! I was so excited!!

But a spanner was thrown in the works as we collected together from both my house and mum’s, the table and chair parts but what evaded us was the nuts, bolts and instructions. There had been some as we checked them on arrival. However a year on and with parts scattered between two houses, the bolts were nowhere to be seen.

David had all the rooms in the new house turned upside down looking for them and we went searching in mum’s house, but to no avail. I really don’t know where they could be!

As you can imagine, I am very upset. The room I had envisaged since the beginning has been the last room to be completed and now has no main feature. I really am at a loss. 😦

The only thing we could do was put in the black, high gloss sideboard I had also bought last year. (I am very impatient as you can see!) I did not think it would take us well over a year to move in and now my interest in the house has hit rock bottom. I really couldn’t care less if we move in or sell up! 😦