Mystery Image Contest: June 9-23, 2014


The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is an endangered mammal found in China and the Himalayas; the above picture is of a red panda at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Science NetLinks' hometown. Despite the red panda's name, it is not closely related to the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), the famous black and white bear also found in China. The red panda is known for its bushy striped tail, distinct facial markings around its eyes, and climbing abilities. Its endangered status is mostly a result of habitat loss due to deforestation, as well as illegal hunting and poaching. Its diet consists mainly of bamboo, similar to the giant panda, as well as other plants. The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. has two red pandas named Rusty and Shama, who were paired in the hopes that they will breed. Since there are fewer than 10,000 adult red pandas in the wild, zoo breeding programs are critical for protecting the future of the species. In the summer of 2013, Rusty the red panda gained notoriety for escaping his enclosure at the National Zoo—luckily he was found near the Zoo within 24 hours and has been safe in his enclosure since! If you will be one of the thousands of people who visit the National Zoo every summer, be sure to stop by the red panda exhibit in the Asia Trail.


This image is of a red panda at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit

Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Winning Entry

Ms. Payton
San Diego Unified School District

For Educators

Teaching Support

June is a great time to visit your local zoo or aquarium for National Zoos and Aquariums Month! In addition to being important educational (and entertaining!) instutions for the public, zoos and aquariums also often run conservation and animal husbandry programs. Besides the animal exhibits and zookeepers that the average zoo visitor sees, the largest zoos (such as the San Diego Zoo, the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conversation Society in New York City, and Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.) have dozens or even hundreds of biologists, ecologists, veterinarians, and other specialists behind the scenes working on reproduction programs for endangered species, partnerships with other zoos and parks around the world, research on animal welfare to provide better care, and other critical issues. Before visiting a zoo or aquarium, be sure to check that it's accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure that you are supporting an institution that provides the best care for the animals that live there.

Check out these Science NetLinks resources on biodiversity and endangered species before your trip to the zoo or aquarium!

Related Resources

Animal Diversity
Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World
Animal Adaptations
3-5 | LESSON
Introducing Biodiversity
3-5 | LESSON
Endangered Species 1: Why Are Species Endangered?
6-8 | LESSON
Endangered Species 2: Working to Save Endangered Species
6-8 | LESSON
Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations
9-12 | LESSON
The Odyssey of KP2
9-12 | LESSON
Biodiversity: Life in the City
K-5 | TOOL
The Tree of Life
6-12 | TOOL
Amphibian Avenger: Smithsonian Scientist Brian Gratwicke
6-8 | VIDEO

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.