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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 11:06 GMT
Escaped panda pair still at large
Red panda - generic
The pandas are well equipped to survive in Scotland
Two red pandas which escaped from a wildlife park three weeks ago are still missing in the Scottish countryside.

The mother and cub - named Pichu and Isla - got free from the Galloway Wildlife Park in Kirkcudbright overnight between 7 and 8 February.

Park owner John Denerley said that although the animals were native to China, India and Nepal, they could survive in the south west of Scotland.

He said they needed little food and was "optimistic" they would return soon.

The mother and cub escaped after a storm hit the conservation park three weeks ago - leaving the father panda behind.

They are still on the loose, but they can survive in the wild like raccoons
John Denerley
Galloway Wildlife Park

It prompted a police appeal for public help in tracking them down.

The pandas are described as being reddish ginger in colour with a long, curly black tail and a face similar to a bear.

They are about the size of a small dog and it has been stressed that they do not pose any risk to the public.

Park owner Mr Denerley said: "They are still on the loose, but they can survive in the wild like raccoons."

He said that red pandas could lose as much as 15% of their body weight in the winter when some of their preferred foods were not available.

Energy demands

"To cope with the lack of food during the winter months, red pandas have evolved several ways of meeting their energy demands," he said.

"For instance, red pandas can spend as much as 13 hours a day looking for and eating bamboo.

"They also have a very low metabolic rate - almost as low as sloths - and can slow their metabolism even further in colder temperatures."

He added that the pandas were covered in thick fur over their entire body - including the soles of their feet - which allowed them to conserve their body heat.

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