The Denver Zoo is proud to announce the birth of four endangered red panda cubs! The July 9th birth of quadruplet red panda cubs is extremely rare; this marks only the fifth recorded birth of quadruplets at an accredited U.S. zoo.
The four cubs (three male, one female), were born to mother Sophia, and father, He-Ping, on July 9. Mother Sophia will be hard at work over the next three months caring for her newborns behind the scenes in an air conditioned den area. The cubs will be vaccinated and given the opportunity to grow and develop before venturing out onto exhibit for public viewing in the fall.
He-Ping arrived at Denver Zoo in 2007 from Milwaukee Zoo with his new mate, Sophia, from Mill Mountain Zoo. The two were paired together under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match. In addition to the new quadruplet cubs, Sophia gave birth to twins during the summer of 2008.
Born with cream colored fur, and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, red pandas, or firefox, are found in the Himalayas, where their diet consists primarily of bamboo. Red pandas have been classified as a relative of the giant panda and also of the raccoon but currently are considered members of their own unique family the Ailuridae.
Red pandas are classified as endangered, with an estimated population of less than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild. Their population continues to decline due to habitat fragmentation and hunting. Red pandas are well adapted with their thick fur coats to live in the often low temperatures of the mountains of southeastern Asia and are quite comfortable outside during cooler days here in Denver.