An Interview with Red Panda Expert: Alana Kardon

Wed 11th December

“zoos work together to ensure the future of the world’s wildlife”

 Alana Kardon visited Paradise Wildlife Park as part of her Red Panda Pilgrimage in November 2019. So far, Alana has visited 26 red panda exhibits.  This is all in effort to collate lots of information to then raise awareness for the red panda species through Alana’s write ups. These have been mainly in the US, where she is from, but she selected Paradise to be one of the few UK zoos to visit for their red panda habitats. Our red pandas Tilly and Nam Pang are always a big hit with visitors, and this did not change at Alana’s visit.



Why did you choose our zoo to visit as part of your pilgrimage?

“I have been following your zoo on Facebook for a few years and knew you had a behind the scenes experience with the red pandas. Luckily for me, my friend immediately agreed to tag along with me so I could visit. Since we were also going to Dublin, I looked up their zoo and found out they too have red pandas, so I reached out there, as well. Who knows when I’ll have the opportunity to visit England and Ireland again!”


What did you think of our lovely red pandas?

“I have yet to meet a red panda who I didn’t immediately love! Nam Pang was so precious and I am so glad I had the opportunity to interact with him. I didn’t blame Tilly at all for wanting to stay in her box while it was raining, though, haha.”


What was your favourite part of Paradise? Apart from the red pandas of course!

“Jenny and I walked around the park after our tour. Jenny’s favourite exhibit was the meerkats! I was very impressed by the white lion exhibit in particular. We also had the opportunity to feed the camels, which I had never done before. We had a lovely day at your zoo!”


What do you hope the outcome of this red panda pilgrimage to be?

“I have written about my experiences at some of the zoos I have visited on the pilgrimage and published an article recently about the importance of zoos in the fight to conserve wild habitats around the globe. I am very passionate about stewardship and love learning about what each zoo is doing to contribute to that mission. The number one thing that I have discovered so far on my journeys to zoos is that the sense of competition between zoos is not really a thing anymore. It wasn’t always that way. Even I saw it as a child. Zoos would almost seem to keep their practices secret. Now, zoos work together to ensure the future of the world’s wildlife. We have Species Survival Plans in the American Zoological Association and accredited zoos participate in the program enthusiastically. I imagine it is the same in Europe. I’m not sure what the end result of my pilgrimage will look like. I have toyed with the idea of writing a book. All I know for sure is that I will visit Nepal on a Red Panda Network Ecotrip and will hopefully get to see red pandas in the wild. What an amazing day that will be.”


We want to thank Alana for sharing her journey with Paradise Wildlife Park and for the visit to our lovely Nam Pang and Tilly! We wish her all the best for her trip to Nepal and hope that her research brings lots of help to the endangered red panda population. You can follow her progress through her Facebook page @redpandatracker




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