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Photos: 16 Cute Red Pandas for International Red Panda Day

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International Red Panda Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of every September and was founded by Red Panda Network to draw attention to the declining populations of red pandas; there are fewer than 10,000 red pandas, meaning the endangered species faces a high risk of extinction in the wild.

These bushy-tailed tree dwellers resemble a cross between a raccoon and a fox, and are slightly larger than the domestic cat. About half of red pandas live in the Eastern Himalayas. Their unique markings, including a black belly and limbs and white faces, have made them a favorite of zoo-goers and unfortunately, those wanting to do them harm.

Poaching and illegal trade of the animals in Nepal has contributed to their decline, along with loss of habitat caused by deforestation. Red Panda Network works to stop the illegal red panda trade and hopes to create the first protected corridor for red pandas in eastern Nepal.

This year marks the ninth anniversary of the holiday. Zoos across the world have organized events to expose the illegal red panda supply chain and educate the public on why red pandas don't make good pets and their need to stay in the wild. At the events, children can become Red Panda Rangers by helping to spread the word about the adorable creatures.

Help protect these precious mammals by sharing the message on social media with the hashtags #SaveTheRedPanda and #NoPandaPets, and check out 16 adorable photos of red pandas on Instagram below!

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