Two seven-week-old endangered Red Panda cubs had their first visit to the veterinarian at Australia’s Perth Zoo.
Though the zoo staff has kept a watchful eye on the cubs since their December 8 birth, this is the first time the red pandas received a hands-on health check. During the exam, the cubs got a quick health assessment, then had their body condition, eyes, teeth, ears, and weight checked by the veterinary staff.
The Red Pandas are a part of the Global Species Management Program, where zoos around the world actively collaborate to prevent the species from becoming extinct. Including the two new arrivals, 18 cubs have been successfully reared at Perth Zoo since 1997.
In the next few weeks, the Red Panda cubs will start venturing out of the nest box. Until now, they’ve been in the nest box with their mother, Anusha. “Anusha is doing a fantastic job rearing her cubs. She’s being really protective and attentive, just what we want to see as she cares for her young who are still tucked up in their nestbox,” said Senior Keeper Becky Thomasson.
Red Pandas, which range across the Himalayan mountains and foothills of northern India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is uncertain how many Red Pandas remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest numbers may be as low as 2,500 individuals.
Red Pandas are threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation of their wild habitat. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other.