See the difference! Is Master Shifu a red panda or a raccoon? - CGTN
See the difference! Is Master Shifu a red panda or a raccoon?
By An Qi

Everybody knows Po, the hero in Kung Fu Panda series, is a giant panda. But when asked about his master Shifu, can you be so sure? Is Master Shifu a red panda, or a raccoon, or a raccoon dog?

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Here are some tips to help you out:

Face

To differentiate between the three, first examine their faces:

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different faces. /VCG Photo

If it has a reddish-brown face with two white-edged big ears, then its a red panda.

The grey/brown face with black eye masks – well, this one is tricky. Put simply, the raccoon's face is black and white, more like a "bandit mask," while the raccoon dog is black and grey/brown, with thicker hairs on the neck like a scarf.

Tail

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Slide to see the red panda, the raccoon and the raccoon dog with their different tails. /VCG Photo

Red and brown rings – the red panda.

Black and white rings – the raccoon.

No ring on the tail – the raccoon dog. 

Paws

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

Slide to see the paws of the red panda, the raccoon and the dog (which is similar to the raccoon dog's). /VCG Photo

It's a red panda if it has five fingers including a false thumb. The red panda has two "thumbs" on its front paws, which are actually extended wrist bones. They help the red panda grab bamboos and climb trees.

If you see four fingers plus a degenerative one on the wrist, it's a raccoon dog. Check the front paws of your dog or cat and you will know what a raccoon dog's paw looks like.

Five fingers, all long and flexible – a raccoon which is famous for its super dexterous front paws. It has a very sharp sense of touch, too. Despite the lack of a real thumb, it can do almost anything with its "hands."

Taxonomy

All three species belong to order carnivore, but they are in different families. The raccoon dog is more closely related to dogs than raccoons while the red panda and the raccoon are distant cousins as they both belong to the superfamily of weasels.

Rarity

The red panda is certainly the rarest of the three. It is listed as endangered species on the IUCN red list, with the population decreasing and habitats being lost.

The red panda is listed as endangered, with its population decreasing. /VCG Photo

The red panda is listed as endangered, with its population decreasing. /VCG Photo

Both the raccoon and raccoon dog are listed as of "least concern" with stable or increasing populations. The raccoon dog is scattered across Europe and East Asia; while the raccoons have become a pest for some residents in North America.

The pygmy raccoon, or Cozumel raccoon, is a critically endangered raccoon species. /VCG Photo

The pygmy raccoon, or Cozumel raccoon, is a critically endangered raccoon species. /VCG Photo

However, some cousins of the raccoon are in danger of extinction, such as the pygmy raccoon (a critically endangered species with only 192 left on Cozumel Island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico), and the olinguito (listed as "near endangered" and can only be found in small areas in the Andes of western Colombia and Ecuador).

So, back to our question in the beginning. Surely, you must already know the answer: 

Master Shifu is a red panda

Po's master is a red panda in the Kung Fu Panda series. /VCG Photo

Po's master is a red panda in the Kung Fu Panda series. /VCG Photo

(Video clips and cover image via VCG)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)