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Red Panda Season

More Red Pandas, this time from Australia's Perth Zoo. Making their first public appearance today, the playful pandas seemed to enjoy the attention. The cubs are happy and healthy and have an attentive mother in Chori, who shuttles her cubs between all three nesting boxes in the exhibit. It's nice to have vacation homes.

Perth zoo baby red pandas 1 

Perth zoo baby red pandas 2

Above photos courtesy of the Perth Zoo

Perth zoo baby red pandas 3
Above photo credit: Kerris Berrington

25 February 2009

Perth Zoo’s latest breeding success – two Red Panda cubs - made their first public appearance today as veterinary staff gave them a health check and vaccinations.

The cubs, who have been tucked away in their nest box since their birth on 28 December, were given a quick physical check, then weighed and vaccinated.

The youngsters are not expected to start venturing out of their nest box until they are three to four months old.

Perth Zoo veterinarian Paul Eden said the eight-week-old cubs looked to be strong and in good health.

“We have a male and a female and they each weigh a healthy 800 grams,” Dr Eden said.

“They are suckling well and will start to wean over the next two to three months.”

Dr Eden said Red Pandas were susceptible to diseases similar to those seen in cats and dogs, so it was important that they were vaccinated.

Mother Chori, who is nine years old, has been using all three of the nest boxes in the exhibit, moving the cubs regularly between the two above-ground nest boxes and transferring them to the cool underground nest box when the days are warmer.

Four-year-old father Harley has nothing to do with the raising of the cubs but is keeping an eye on proceedings from an adjacent exhibit.

Perth Zoo is part of a regional breeding program for Nepalese Red Panda and has successfully bred 14 pandas since 1997. The Nepalese Red Panda is classified as endangered, with habitat destruction the major threat to its long-term survival.

Perth Zoo Chief Executive Susan Hunt said that in addition to the breeding program, education and raising awareness about the threats faced by Red Pandas was a priority.

“The ever-increasing human demand for land and timber means this species and many others will become extinct in the wild unless we can turn the tide,” Ms Hunt said.

Feeding almost exclusively on bamboo, Red Pandas are found in a mountainous band from Nepal through to north eastern India and Bhutan and into China, Laos and northern Myanmar and share part of their range with giant pandas.

The Red Panda exhibit at Perth Zoo is kindly sponsored by Thiess Pty Ltd.

Background Information

Nepalese Red Pandas take their name from their deep Mahogany-coloured fur.

The word Panda is derived from Nepalese ‘nigalya ponya’ meaning ‘bamboo eater’.

Red Pandas are nocturnal so they feed from dusk to dawn then sleep in the crook of a tree or on a tree limb during the day.

The Red Panda’s main food in the wild is bamboo plus grasses, acorns, roots, berries and lichen. They will also eat insects, eggs, young birds and rodents. At Perth Zoo they are fed bamboo and a varied diet of fruit, vegetables and small amounts of meat.

Like Giant Pandas, Red Pandas have a false thumb, which helps them hold bamboo stems and leaves. They also have partially retractable claws and are very good climbers.

Red Pandas mature sexually at 18-20 months.

The gestation period for a Red Panda can range from 110 to 145 days (3 to 5 months).

Perth Zoo has had significant breeding success with Red Pandas. The Zoo has successfully bred 14 Red Pandas since 1997. Once old enough, cubs are moved to other zoos in the region to assist in other breeding programs.