All 3 Types of Pandas, Explained

There are three different types of pandas:

  • Red panda
  • Giant panda
  • Qinling panda

The red panda is significantly different than the other two breeds of pandas. The red panda belongs to the family of Ailuridae, while both the Giant panda and the Qinling panda belong to the Ursidae family of animals. Furthermore, the Qinling panda is a subspecies of the Giant panda, so they share many similarities.

Types of Pandas
Type of PandaScientific NameLocationPopulation
Giant PandaAiluropoda melanoleucaChina3,000
Red PandaAilurus fulgensNepal, India, Tibet, Myanmar, ChinaUnknown
Qinling PandaAiluropoda melanoleuca qinlingensisChina100

Let’s take a look at each panda species and see how they differ from each other.

About the Red Panda

The red panda is also known as the lesser panda. It is native to southwestern China and the eastern Himalayas and is known by its latin name Ailurus fulgens. It belongs to the family of Ailuridae, making it a close relative of raccoons and other similar mammals.

Unlike the giant panda and the Qinling panda, the red panda is vastly different as it belongs to the family of Ailuridae. It’s still a carnivore, but it is significantly smaller than the giant panda. There are some similarities in appearance as they have similar features, but the red panda has a red coat and is much smaller.

Even though many people mistake the red panda and place it in the category of the giant panda, they’re different animals. The red panda belongs to the family of the Ailuradae and is its sole member. The giant panda, on the other hand, belongs to the family of Ursidae and is a close relative of bears.

The name red panda stems from the Nepalese word “paja”, which translates to claw. In English, this name was simplified to “panda”, so this animal also got named the red panda because of its red coat. This means that many people mistake this animal for other pandas because of its name, but they don’t have many similarities.

The red panda is an endangered species. There is an estimated 10,000 individuals around the world of the red panda, and hunting this animal is considered illegal around the world.

This has been done to prevent a futher decline of the red panda population, which has already been depleted in the last few decades.

Hunting and habitat loss are the two main factors that are causing the red panda to be endangered. As we’ve already mentioned, hunting the red panda is illegal in most parts of the world, and there are great conservation efforts to stop the deforestation that is causing the panda to lose habitat, too.

Related Article: 10 Panda Adaptations

About the Giant Panda

The giant panda, also known as the panda bear, is an animal that is endemic to China. It has been present in Chinese bamboo forests for centuries, but it has become vulnerable in recent decades because of hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation.

The giant panda belongs to the family of Ursidae, making it a close relative of other bear species. However, compared to other bears, it has a much more tame character and it’s a peaceful animal. It is considered to be a national treasure in China and it’s also one of the most popular animals around the world.

If we compare the giant panda and the red panda, you’ll find that there are many differences between the two. Because they belong to different families of animals, they don’t have many similarities. Namely, the giant panda is larger, has thicker coat, and is black and white, while the red panda is red.

There are over 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, and many are also kept in zoos. The populations of pandas have fallen in recent decades because of hunting and habitat loss, as well as due to negative birth rates. 

But there are strong conservational efforts to keep the giant panda species alive. Panda hunting is now illegal and deforestation has also been stopped. There are also many programs to repopulate the giant panda and increase the number of these pandas living both in the wild and in captivity.

Related Article: Do Giant Panda Eat Bamboo?

About the Qinling Panda

The Qinling panda is a subspecies of the giant panda. It has only been discovered recently – in the 1960s. As such, it was the first subspecies of the giant panda to be officially recognized.

This panda subspecies shares many similar features as the giant panda. It is approximately the same in terms of size and character, but it has a brown coat and it tends to live in higher altitudes. Usually, this panda will live in areas of 1300 meters and above as it prefers slightly colder climates.

Like the giant panda, the Qinling panda is also considered to be endangered. There were only around 100 pandas of this type in the wild living in 2001, so there are also conservational efforts to keep this species alive. 

Its main enemies are pollution and habitat loss. This animal is particularly vulnerable to certain metals and other pollutants such as copper and lead, so any presence of these metals in the wild will make them endangered. They prefer clean soil with bamboo trees, so they gravitate to such areas.

What is the Rarest Type of Panda?

The rarest type of panda is the Qinling panda, with only around 100 individuals still living in the wild. Until the 1960s, the giant panda was considered to be the rarest type of panda.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Qinling panda was only discovered fairly recently. Since its discovery, the giant panda was the rarest panda with only just over a 1000 individuals living in the wild. However, with the discovery of the Qinling panda, this subspecies became the rarest panda species. 


To conclude, there are currently three types of pandas that we know: red panda, giant panda, and the Qinling panda. The red panda and the other two panda species are not related, while the giant panda and the Qinling panda are closely related. The Qinling panda is a subspecies of the giant panda. Both are also considered to be endangered.

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