With four breeding pairs, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo has one of the most successful Red Panda breeding programs in the United States. But even strong programs experience challenges: Earlier this year, two Red Panda cubs – named Henry and Tink – almost didn’t make it. But thanks to expert care, these two little ones are thriving, and you can see their story in this video.
Henry was so sick at birth that keepers weren’t sure he’d survive his first day of life. Because Henry is genetically valuable to the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, the zoo put as many resources as necessary into saving this little cub. Henry stopped breathing, and he was on oxygen for one month. He later overcame a bout of pneumonia, and by the time he was three months old, Henry had increased his weight ten-fold – a huge accomplishment given his rough start in life.
Tink was cared for by her mother for a short time, but she was not growing. Keepers determined that her mother was not producing enough milk. Again, the National Zoo’s staff swung into action and removed Tink from her mother’s care. Today, Tink is gaining weight and growing just as she should.
Henry and Tink are constant companions, and even though Henry is much bigger, the staff says he is extremely gentle with his friend. The two play, explore, and simply hang out together.