The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park is proud to announce the birth of twin Red Panda cubs on June 11 to second-time mother, Mei-Li.
The first cub has been with Mei-Li since birth and has grown as expected. The second cub was significantly smaller at birth, and after close observation, the decision was made to add supplemental feedings, hoping to allow the cub to stay with mom and sibling.
However, it became evident that the second cub was going to need additional care and support and was subsequently removed for hand rearing by Animal Care staff. This cub is now gaining weight appropriately, though additional health concerns have come to light. At this point, staff will be moving forward with the current care plan and will wait for the cub to become healthier before putting it back with Mei-Li.
The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN because its population has declined by 50% over the past 20 years. This decline is primarily due to deforestation, which eliminates red pandas’ nesting sites and sources of food. Through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Binghamton Zoo participates in several Species Survival Plans (SSP), ensuring the long-term health and survival of captive species, including the Red Panda.
Red Pandas can be found in the Himalayan Mountains in parts of Buma, Nepal, India, and China. Contrary to popular belief, Red Pandas are not related to the Giant Panda, but are closely related to the raccoon family.
Red Pandas spend most of their days sleeping in trees and are most active at nighttime. They are herbivores, eating berries, leaves, grains, nuts, fruits, flowers, and bird eggs.
Litter size ranges from one to four young. The young remain nest-bound for about 90 days after birth and reach their adult size at about 12 months. The maximum lifespan for Red Pandas is about 14 years.
According to Zoo staff, Cub A is on exhibit, but may not be visible for several weeks until it is big enough to climb out of the nest box. Cub B will continue to be off exhibit while under veterinary care.
The Zoo will soon host a gender reveal party and will be hosting a naming contest. Fans can also follow the growth of the Red Panda cubs via the Binghamton Zoo’s website: www.rossparkzoo.com/red-panda-cubs