The Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand recently announced the birth of three rare Red Panda cubs. The cubs, all male, were born on December 20th. They joined their mother Tayla, father Chito, and older brother Ketu at the zoo, doubling the zoo's Red Panda population.
Now, at eight weeks old, the cubs are continuing to grow and thrive off exhibit in their mother's den. "Red panda cubs are slow to develop so the first months are really crucial,'' explained zoo Curator Sam Kudeweh. ''We have been undertaking regular weigh ins with the cubs so that we can keep an eye on their progress - but need to balance this with hands off approach as much as possible so we can leave mum Tayla to look after her cubs," she continued. At the first weighing, when the cubs were 19 days old, they tipped the scales at 225 grams. They have continuined to grow and have now ballooned up to 400 grams, about the weight of a can of beans.
Red Pandas, despite their name, are more closely related to raccoons, skunks and weasels than Giant Pandas. Native to the Eastern Himalayans and Southwestern China, the Red Panda feeds primarily on bamboo. However, they are omnivorous and will eat insects, birds and eggs to supplement their bamboo diet.
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Red Panda population numbers are dwindling due to deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and poaching for their pelts. This has resulted in decline in numers that has led to a population of less than 10,000 individuals. This scare population has led to their classification of "vulnerable" by the IUCN. WIth such a sparse wild population, this birth of triplets is a huge success in the effort to conserve these little Asian critters.