Supporter Spotlights

Red panda rockstars from all over the world who are ambassadors for Red Panda Network's mission and advocates for the conservation of the first panda.

Kuniko Kai
May 14, 2020

"Frankly, I did not pay much attention to red pandas at first. It was not that rare of an animal to me because I got to see them whenever I would visit zoos in Japan. 

They came to my attention when I helped my daughter’s summer science project on red pandas, which we did together. That was when I came to realize red pandas are endangered. When I told my daughter this, she seemed to be in shock and I'll never forget the sad face she made. I know there are a lot of people who care about red pandas including young kids and I find not want to see their sad faces too. We agreed we must conserve them!

We then thought about what we can do to save them. My daughter was just 8 years old and I was just an ordinary mother who loves animals...what could we do?? We tested ourselves to see how much we knew about red pandas. Shameful! We did not know much besides the fact that they are cute. We visited libraries and looked for red panda books written in Japanese. We found none.

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So we searched online but I was not sure if the information was credible. Luckily we were able to read English and found Angela Glatston's red panda textbook! We spent lots of time learning about red pandas, which my daughter included in her report and she won the first prize! After that, my daughter wanted to publish a book on red pandas in Japanese to help raise awareness. We thought THAT’S IT!!  Let’s publish a book about red panda!!

In order to publish the book, I had to see red pandas in the wild. That was when I learned about Red Panda Network (RPN) and I signed up for one of their ecotrips right away. My daughter also wanted to come but she was too young.

The trip was totally unforgettable experience. It was not that easy because I had never hiked at such high altitude. RPN staff, the guide, local people, and the other ecotrippers were very nice and I had a chance to learn about wild red pandas, their habitat, as well as the local communities and threats to this endangered species. I learned that in order to protect red pandas, we need to support local people in improving their lives. This is exactly what RPN is doing and I truly appreciate their work.

I also learned that even just an ordinary person, like me, can help change things for the better. That is why I choose to support RPN in any way I can."

Chris Turner-Neal
April 16, 2020

RPN has been blessed by Chris Turner-Neal's volunteership and superb writing abilities since 2014! He originally joined RPN to help with grant writing and now he is a member of our Writing and Communications team.

Chris's interest in red pandas developed from the moment he found out about them. He shared with us that a friend told him that his "frequent snacking and awkward gait reminded him of a red panda". Who wouldn't want to be compared to a red panda? Unfortunately, Chris lacks the false thumb that helps red pandas gather bamboo efficiently so he'll have to stick to his own diet.

One of Chris's favorite aspects of his work with RPN is when he gets to collaborate with our team in Nepal. As Chris puts it, "they work so hard to hit these conservation goals and build an infrastructure on the ground, and I get to help be sure their work is presented as cleanly and effectively as it can."

Chris lives in New Orleans where he is managing editor of 64 Parishes magazine. He is super excited about RPN's pangolin expansion, also supports the Chimp Haven chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana; and his red panda tattoo is from Chris Handford at Black Torch Tattoo in Baton Rouge.

Chris is also a member of our team of dedicated monthly donors that we proudly call 'Panda Guardians.' We are honored to have someone so #passionateaboutpandas on our volunteer and Panda Guardian teams!

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Claire Dubiel
March 31, 2020

Claire is an avid red panda enthusiast. Friends and family have known about her obsession for years and up until this past summer you would be able to see Claire driving around with the Texas state license plate 'RED PNDA'. Her infatuation with ringed tailed creatures began long before seeing her first red panda at the San Diego Zoo in 2006. No, it all began seeing families of raccoons pass through her family's backyard on their way to the park across the street. When she finally set eyes on an animal she has never seen before going out on a walk with his zookeeper, it was destiny. "His name was Fuji and he changed my life", says Claire. Is it a fox? No. Is it a raccoon? No. It's the most adorable and precious creature in the animal kingdom, the Red Panda!
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She bought her first red plushie at the San Diego Zoo store, named her Mei Mei meaning "little sister" in Chinese and thus her red panda collection began. Over the years her red panda collection exploded as Claire visited more zoos across the country, driving out their stock of red panda related merchandise, and families and friends eventually figured out to gift anything red panda themed for birthdays and holidays. “About 10% of my wardrobe has a Red Panda on it”, Claire states proudly. Now, those friends and family are afraid to gift something red panda because they are afraid she already owns it, which is a valid concern. “I feel if red pandas become popular like sloths, otters, corgis, and avocados, I wouldn’t be able to keep up anymore, because I'd go broke. But I don’t see why they haven’t struck it big in the media.”

Claire’s biggest regret in life is not making photocopies of her red panda ranger packet that got lost in the mail when she was in 3rd grade. Now, she is in her early 20s and continues to give to the Red Panda Network every month through direct donation and enrollment in Amazon Prime Smile. She fully intends to give her firstborn the Latin name for the red panda genus as a middle name, Ailurus. Now, there is an illustrated children's book published and available on the Red Panda Network's gift store called Fuji Takes a Walk written by his trainer, Janell Roesener, about the same red panda in the San Diego Zoo that inspired it all.

Thank you, Claire, for your inspiring love for red pandas and incredible dedication to their conservation. We are truly honored to have you as a member of our Panda Guardian team!

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Kate Bourdon
January 30, 2020

Kate, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has been busy baking cupcakes for conservation!

She sells her delicious treats at local community events and has raised nearly $3,000 since she began donating in 2016.

RPN extends our most sincere gratitude for this young conservation hero and her passion to preserve the first panda!

Holly MacCormick
January 17, 2020

“I’ll never forget my first glimpse of a red panda. I was admiring the birds, animals, and exotic plants at the Minnesota Zoo when I rounded a corner and saw an animal unlike anything I’d ever seen before—a red panda. I adore animals, yet I hadn't known this gorgeous creature existed. How many other natural wonders was I unaware of?

That feeling of awe, delight, and curiosity stuck with me. To me, red pandas are a reminder that nature contains so many extraordinary things yet to be discovered. I wish everyone could experience the feeling I had when I saw a red panda for the first time, even if only briefly.

I volunteer for Red Panda Network (RPN) not only because of the incredible work they do in the field of red panda conservation, but also because of the way they do it. RPN researched different approaches to conservation and found that involving and educating the local (and global) communities who coexist with red pandas is the most effective way to save this important and awe-inspiring species.

Since I started volunteering in October of 2018, I’ve had some incredible experiences with the RPN team. These experiences have deepened my knowledge and appreciation of red pandas and the natural world around me in unforeseen and wonderful ways. I recently joined RPN at the 2019 WCN Expo in San Francisco where we met a conservation icon—Dr. Jane Goodall. Our faces in this photo say it all.

I’ve gained so much by volunteering for RPN—the opportunity to do something good for others, a chance to give back, and the feeling that I’m helping an animal and community I care deeply about. I’ve also made some incredible friends in the process. If you haven’t volunteered or contributed to conservation efforts before, I highly recommend it. The red pandas, all living things, and this glorious ecosystem we call home need you.”

Holly is an incredibly talented writer and is a member of RPN's Writing and Communications volunteer team. She is also a passionate conservationist and a dedicated member of our recurring donor team—the Panda Guardians! Thank you for all of your support and commitment to red panda conservation, Holly!

Photo L to R: RPN Development Manager, Terrance Fleming; RPN Country Director, Ang Phuri Sherpa; Jane Goodall; RPN Writing and Communications Volunteer, Holly MacCormick; Development Associate, Mark Hougardy

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Abraham Mau
December 12, 2019

Abe's love for red pandas started during a visit to the Detroit Zoo this year. After that, he committed himself to saving the endangered species by helping raise awareness and supporting our work.

Abe donated to RPN through a symbolic adoption of red panda Bhim. He also completed our Red Panda Ranger program and is now an official level 5 ranger!

He then saved his chore and birthday money—Abe even made a donation jar—and mailed a money order of $154.23 for our giving Tuesday match campaign, doubling his gift to nearly $300 for Plant A Red panda Home!

Thank you, Abe! You truly are a Red Panda Rockstar.

Beatrice Potter
November 27, 2019

We are honored to welcome Beatrice as an ambassador for our Forest Guardian program! She has been a RPN supporter since 2014 and attended an ecotrip to Nepal in 2015.

"The Red Panda is an endearing one-off in the animal kingdom and, as a key species, it deserves our support. This, in turn, ensures the protection and restoration of habitat which is not only vital for its continued presence in its home range but also enhances the conservation of all flora and fauna to be found within it. I have been to the area in question twice. Unfortunately, I was in Dobate during the earthquake which curtailed any possibility of seeing the area. In 2019 I returned and was lucky enough to see 8 different animals.

The RPN does a sterling job in promoting this mammal and also enhances the lives of the local people through education and job creation. To me, the FG program is vital as it ensures the involvement of the indigenous population and their understanding of the importance of their unique Red Panda. It means that through their work on the ground they are making a vital contribution to their local environment as well as ensuring they receive an income which in turn supports their families and way of life."

Thank you, Beatrice! We are truly grateful for your support. 

Photo: Beatrice trekking in Eastern Bhutan

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Justin Fairchild
October 20, 2019

Justin is a passionate conservationist who gives monthly through our Panda Guardian program. He also attended an RPN ecotrip to Nepal in March of this year and is the creator of https://wah.is/redpandafinder:

"Watching red panda families interact and play and grow together on Youtube and social media taught me how wonderful and valuable the lives of both people and animals can be.

I've seen firsthand how contributing to Red Panda Network supports the growth and viability of the cloud forests the red panda is so well-adapted to. The dense, mossy trees and foliage the red pandas blend into are like nothing I'd ever seen before, and you feel instinctively how their adaptations are made for these forests, and that safeguarding this land means saving the red panda.

My passion for red pandas grew out of videos and photos shared by hundreds of Japanese red panda fans every day! Inspired by their love and dedication, and powered by their spreadsheets as well as zoo-curated studbooks, in June 2018 I began designing what became redpandafinder.com. My goal is to extend this photobook and family tree to every zoo where red pandas are found, in order to inspire people worldwide to cherish these animals and support efforts to protect them."

Thank you Justin! We are truly grateful for your support.

Photo: Justin on RPN ecotrip.

Minami Furukawa
October 10, 2019

"I originally started volunteering for RPN in 2016 because I thought it would be a great way to build my portfolio in social media management across different types of brands/businesses. Helping cute red pandas in their natural habitats seemed like an interesting and fun opportunity, and the ins and outs of a non-profit was something I wanted to learn more about. Since then, I've gotten to see passion and enthusiasm for red panda conservation in all sorts of ways from people ranging from young panda fans, to zoo staff, to professional conservationists, and its this inspiring community that's kept me here. Plus, as a bonus, volunteering for RPN has given me amazing experiences like meeting REAL red pandas and their keepers in so many zoos across America and even Europe, and let me connect with people across the globe that I would otherwise never have met, all because of this shared interest. Someday, I hope to make it on an eco-trip to see them in the wilderness of Nepal!"

We are truly grateful for all of your help, Minami!

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Brian Sim
August 29, 2019

"The first time I "saw" a red panda was when I came across a video of a couple red pandas playing in the snow. I was immediately struck by how cute, intelligent, and playful they were. Going down the rabbithole of red panda videos soon had me hooked. What I didn't know at the time was the threat they faced as a species. From poachers to environmental changes, it was sobering to learn how few of them were left in the wild. My research led me to the Red Panda Network though. I was excited to learn that there was a dedicated organization that worked on so many levels - helping educate people worldwide, but also creating measurable change in the local communities. I first became involved by symbolically adopting a red panda, and donating monthly. I eventually reached out to the RPN team to see if there was anything more I could do to help, and I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer. I've had a chance to work with RPN now for over three years and have been really pleased to see the organization grow and accomplish so much, and I'm excited to continue helping RPN achieve our mission!"

Since 2016, Brian has been volunteering with RPN on a number of important projects—from assisting with our 2018 online auction to research tasks to writing an article for our website blog! He is also a long-time sustainer and member of our Panda Guardian team. We are truly grateful for all your help and support, Brian!

Photo: Brian and his fiancee holding a yard sale to support RPN.