Is it legal to own a red panda?
Would you like to have a red panda as a pet? Or a sloth? What about a slow loris, a type of cute primate?
Demand for wild pets is rising, spurred in part by internet videos that show how adorable they are. In some cases, owners post videos of wild animals in their care, coddling them as if they were domesticated.
Red pandas sport a lush, rust-colored coat, large fluffy ears, and a bushy ringed tail. But though they look cuddly, you wouldn’t want to snuggle one: When disturbed, they can release a pungent odor from their anal gland that’s acrid enough to ward off predators.
“You don’t want wild animals as pets, and you particularly would not want to have a red panda,” said Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. “They have cat-like claws that would tear up your furniture and maybe even you. And they mark their territory like many mammals do, so it would really be a smelly mess at your house.”
They also spend most of their time in trees in rainy, high-altitude forests in central China, Nepal, and northern Myanmar—conditions that are (obviously) difficult to replicate.
The animals are endangered throughout their range and their commercial trade is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)