Following an uncertain start to life, Chai, a Red Panda cub born at Mogo Zoo on the South Coast of New South Wales, will be making her first public debut. Born on December 3rd, the baby was rejected by mom at just six days old. It was necessary for the Zoo’s veterinarian, Dr Sam Young, to intervene and hand-raise the cub.
Since then, Chai has been bottle-fed a special milk formula and has only recently been introduced to bamboo and fresh fig. The energetic youngster now weighs a healthy 2.8 kilograms and is proving a handful for Dr Young and the Zoo’s keepers. Chai’s abundant energy is harnessed as she often wrestles her stuffed toys and balls, and on occasion has been known to cheekily bite her keepers. Dr Young commented, “It’s been a great pleasure and challenge caring for Chai and watching her develop and grow. We’ve become very fond of her mischievous nature and look forward to seeing her interact with the public for the first time”.
The Red Panda is listed as a vulnerable species as its population has dwindled to fewer than 10,000 individuals, with a declining trend of greater than 10% over the next three future generations. Habitat destruction is the greatest threat faced by Red Pandas today, who, in the wild, are found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar and Nepal. In eastern Nepal, six land management practices are collectively threatening the survival of this species: demand for firewood; grazing; hunting; cash cropping; timber and the medicinal plant trade.
Photo Credit: June Andersen, Mogo Zoo
Learn more and see more Panda pictures after the jump:
Chai will receive her final cub vaccination at 16 weeks of age on March 26, at which time she will be introduced to the public. Chai’s future public appearances will then coincide with the Red Panda encounter, which is conducted on a daily basis.