Two red panda cubs have been born at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park.
They are the first to be born at the Devon Zoo since July 2004.
The cubs were born in July. Julian Chapman, Paignton Zoo’s senior head keeper of mammals, told the Devon Week: “Red panda cubs are slow to make an appearance as they continue their development in the nest after birth, like badgers and foxes.”
Father Randy is 3 years old and came to Paignton from Dortmund Zoo in Germany in September 2008. Mother Mandy is 6 and came from Dublin Zoo in January 2008.
Animal staff have now sexed the pair – there is one male, one female – and fitted them with transponders. They hope visitors will be able to see them out and about in the next few weeks.
The red or lesser panda comes from the mountains of Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal. It lives in high altitude forest and eats bamboo shoots, grass, roots, fruit, acorns and occasionally mice and birds. It has fur on the pads of its paws to help keep heat in and to prevent it slipping on wet or snowy surfaces.
The female has one or two young after a gestation period of 90 to 150 days (the longer period is when the fertile egg lies dormant). The young stay with the mother until they are one year old.
The red panda is classed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which means it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. It has legal protection in Nepal and China, and occurs in several national parks. Conservation breeding programmes in zoos are co-ordinated world-wide.
With its rusty red coat and a long bushy tail it resembles a racoon more than a panda. It is mainly nocturnal and spends most of its time curled on a branch with its tail over its head. It lives in pairs and forms small family groups.
(from a press release)