- Also called giant panda. a white-and-black, bearlike mammal, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, now rare and restricted to forest areas of central China containing stands of bamboo, on which it mainly subsists: formerly placed with the raccoon family but now classified as a bear subfamily, Ailuropodinae, or as the sole member of a separate family, Ailuropodidae, which diverged from an ancestral bear lineage.
- Also called lesser panda. a reddish-brown, raccoonlike mammal, Ailurus fulgens, of mountain forests in the Himalayas and adjacent eastern Asia, subsisting mainly on bamboo and other vegetation, fruits, and insects, and reduced in numbers by collectors: now considered unrelated to the giant panda and usually classified as the sole member of an Old World raccoon subfamily, Ailurinae, which diverged from an ancestral lineage that also gave rise to the New World raccoons.
- Also called: giant panda a large black-and-white herbivorous bearlike mammal, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, related to the raccoons and inhabiting the high mountain bamboo forests of China: family Procyonidae
- lesser panda or red panda a closely related smaller animal resembling a raccoon, Ailurus fulgens, of the mountain forests of S Asia, having a reddish-brown coat and ringed tail
n.1835, from French, apparently from the Nepalese name of a raccoon-like mammal (lesser panda) found there. First reference to the Giant Panda is from 1901; since its discovery in 1869 by French missionary Armand David (1826-1900) it had been known as parti-colored bear, but the name was changed after the zoological relationship to the red panda was established.