Beyond Turning Red: Red Pandas in Film & TV

Szene aus Turning Red
Photo: © 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Turning Red launched on Disney+ on March 11 – and the Pixar production is already considered the streaming service’s most successful film yet. Likewise, vast amounts of fan fiction and GIFs prove that Turning Red has found its audience. At the same time, the film has also sparked heated debate. The (harmless) allusions to menstruation, puberty, and teenage crushes are causing incensed comments from conservative parents, especially in the US. Many online media are outdoing each other with hysterical clickbait headlines. In Europe, there are hardly any comparable reactions. Perhaps because here we grew up with this, this and – yes, Hollywood – with this. In Asia, the film has also received mostly positive reviews.

And quite rightly so.

Because Turning Red is technically excellently made and also works emotionally on many levels. The complex daughter-mother-grandmother relationship stands out in particular. However, the film’s humor is completely underestimated. Turning Red is by far the funniest Pixar production in a long time..

Video: Disney/Pixar
The discovery of the Red Panda

The fact that 13-year-old Meilin turns into a giant Red Panda – and not, say, a giraffe, a snow leopard or a mouse – proves to be a very good choice by director Domee Shi, especially in the sad scenes. The vulnerability of the main character is reflected in this sensitive species. It is quite possible that other filmmakers will now also discover the Red Panda for themselves. So far, the species has had a hard time competing with the popular lions, clownfish and calicoes.

However, there are some examples of Red Panda films. If you’re hungry for more after Turning Red, here’s a selection of the most important productions:


Cherub of the Mist

The Bedi Brothers’ classic Red Panda documentary Cherub of the Mist has won several awards. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find in some regions. Tip: The DVD is occasionally available on online marketplaces. 

[Apple TV] [Bedi Brothers]

The Forgotten Panda

In 2016, filmmaker Dr. Axel Gebauer was filming in Nepal and was able to capture the hidden Red Pandas on camera. The material was used to create the documentary film Der Kleine Panda – Verborgen im Himalaya, which has already been shown several times on German and Austrian television.

There is also a 15-minute version in German and English:

The Firefox Guardian

Filmmaker Gunjan Menon has documented the work of the Red Panda Network’s Forest Guardians in The Firefox Guardian.

Movies and series

His Dark Materials

The series His Dark Materials is based on the bestselling novels by Philip Pullmann. In this fantasy universe, the main characters are accompanied by a so-called dæmon. In the case of the heroine of the story, Lyra, this takes the form of a red panda, among other things.

Photo: by Courtesy of HBO

By the way, the film crew was inspired by the Red Pandas at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. [ZSL]

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda from DreamWorks Animation is lighter fare and therefore probably more to the taste of overburdened parents. The character of Master Shifu – voiced by Dustin Hoffman in the original – is remotely based on the Red Panda. In the film, he even gets to fight a snow leopard. 2011 and 2016 sequels were released in theaters.

Barbie as The Island Princess

Even more parent-friendly is this film: Barbie as The Island Princess. The blonde islander is absurdly accompanied by a Red Panda, which would normally not voluntarily do such a tropical climate to itself. Why all the animals in this film have creepy eyes remains the producers’ secret.


Flöckchen is set in Barcelona in the 1960s and is a mixture of feature film and animation. The main character, a small white gorilla, is accompanied by a Red Panda.

Are you missing movies, series or documentaries with Red Pandas? Then we are happy about a hint. Thank you!