Perth Zoo’s latest breeding success – two Red Panda cubs – made their first brief public appearance today as veterinary staff gave them a health check and vaccinations. The cubs, who have been tucked away in their nest box under the care of their mother Tiamat since their birth on 20 December, were given a quick physical check and vaccinations this morning.
Perth Zoo senior veterinarian Simone Vitali said the eight-week-old cubs, which are not expected to start venturing out of their nest box for another six to eight weeks yet, looked to be strong and in good health.
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“Red Pandas are susceptible to diseases similar to those seen in cats and dogs so it is important that they are vaccinated,” Dr Vitali said.
“We have confirmed today that we have a male and a female and that they each weigh around 700 grams which is a healthy weight for their age.
“They are suckling well and will start to wean over the next two to three months.”
Perth Zoo has successfully bred 16 Nepalese Red Pandas since 1997 as part of a regional breeding program for this endangered species.
In addition to the breeding program, Perth Zoo educates visitors and raises awareness about the threats faced by Red Pandas including the ever-increasing human demand for land and timber.
The Nepalese Red Panda is classified as endangered with habitat destruction and poaching the major threats to its long-term survival.
Feeding almost exclusively on bamboo, Red Pandas are found in mountainous terrain 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.
Red Pandas are nocturnal. 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 Red Panda ranges from 110 to 145 days.