After three months secluded in their nest-box, two rare Red Panda cubs have finally emerged from the den, much to the delight of Cotswold Wildlife Park keepers and visitors alike. These striking twins are the first Red Pandas to be born at the Park in ten years. The as yet unnamed cubs were born to first-time parents, Doodoo and Scarlet, on 24th June 2012. The births came as quite a surprise to keepers, unaware that Scarlet was even pregnant! Red Pandas only have a small window of opportunity for breeding every couple of years when the female is receptive. Being incredibly shy and secretive animals, keepers did not observe any mating between the adult Pandas and Scarlet’s thick fur hid any tale-tale signs that she was about to give birth.
Curator Jamie Craig said: “The Park has had an excellent record of breeding this species in the past and it says something about our history with Red Pandas that the breeding male we have now is the grandson of one of our original animals. Our new pair look set to be every bit as successful as previous Pandas at the Park and will play an important role in the breeding programme.”
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. They have also been classified as the 19th most globally threatened species by the Edge Of Existence Programme, so these new arrivals are of great significance to the collection. Tragically, due to habitat loss and fur hunting, it is believed that less than 2,500 Red Pandas remain in the wild. Cotswold Wildlife Park is committed to a European Breeding Programme to protect this gentle species.