Meet a red panda a the Chattanooga Zoo

Dream of meeting and feeding a rare red panda?  The Chattanooga Zoo is one of only a dozen zoos in the country to offer encounters with a red panda.  Emily crossed an animal encounter off her bucket list, by receiving for her sixteenth birthday a rare up-close visit with an endangered red panda.   That same day, she also had behind the scenes experience with a capybara and the spider monkeys.

Endangered Red Pandas

Emily has been fond of red pandas, ever since seening one at the San Francisco Zoo. Red Pandas are an often misunderstood animal, who belong more to the raccoon family than panda bears family, but are actually in their own class. They are endangered, with only around 2,500 to 10,000 remaining in the entire world.

Up Close With a Red Panda

Chattanooga Zoo’s red panda is named Avii. Avii met Emily after two zookeepers led her through to the red panda’s indoor enclosure exhibit. The exhibit is the largest red panda facility in the County, which allows guests up close viewing through several large windows.

When Emily arrived, Avii was lounging atop a tree branch, just as he would have been in his natural habitat, the wild.

Beckoning Avii down to the ground, the Emily offered him a stick of bamboo, and he slowly climbed down.

Emily had 30 minutes of panda time and was given the opportunity to feed the red panda grapes from her very own hand. She even pet the rare creature. One zookeeper took over photography duties so that Emily could better enjoy her time with Avii.

Meanwhile, the zookeepers taught Emily everything there is to know about the lifestyles of red pandas, including their eating and sleeping habits.

Rare animals of the Himalayan Mountains of Asia

Emily explored the entire zoo, encountering other rare or endangered animals, in addition to Avii, the red panda.

The Himalayan Passage of the zoo included endangered Snow Leopards, Francois Langur and Tomistomas. Also in this area of the zoo is Pierre, a Bali Mynah bird. This white bird is critically endangered with about 100 left in the wild. Pierre has a wonderful personality and is very playful. He is able to mimic sounds and can replicate the sound of the hanging bell on the door next to his enclosure. 

More Information

Chattanooga Zoo
301 N Holtzclaw Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37404

At the time of this article being written, ticket prices are as follows:

Free for toddlers and babies 2 and under
$7.95 for children 3-12
$8.95 for Seniors 65+
$10.95 for adults 13 and up

Wild Animal Encounters

Chattanooga Zoo’s Wild Encounters lets visitors get acquainted with rare specimens of wild animals, such as the Red Panda, Two-Toed Sloth, SpiderMonkeys, Capybara, Meerkats, Fennec Fox. Pricing varies and ranges from $75 – $205 depending on the animal experience. General zoo admission is required.  A portion of the encounter ticket sales goes towards wildlife conservation programs.