For the first time in Zoo Liberec’s history, they have succeeded in breeding Red Pandas! A pair of young pandas was born, on June 28, at the Czech Republic zoo.
The brother and sister are the offspring of mom, Lotus, who arrived at Liberec from the French Zoo de Bordeaux-Pessac. The father is Kamala, who came from Paradise Park in Cornwall, UK.
The twins are yet-to-be-named, but zoo staff are intent on them having Asian inspired monikers. The Zoo anticipates them being on public display by September when they will be old enough to begin exploring on their own. They are currently safely tucked away under their mom’s care and supervision.
Red Pandas are native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. They are slightly larger than a domestic cat. They are omnivorous, feeding mainly on bamboo, but they are also known to eat eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. They are solitary and are mainly active from dusk till dawn.
The Red Panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It had been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families, but results of phylogenetic research indicate strong support for its taxonomic classification in its own family Ailuridae, which along with the weasel, raccoon and skunk families, is part of the superfamily Musteloidea. The Red Panda is not closely related to the Giant Panda.
Red Pandas are able to reproduce at around 18 months of age, and are fully mature at two to three years. After a gestation period of 112 to 158 days, the female gives birth in mid-June to late July to one to four blind and deaf cubs. The cubs start to open their eyes at about 18 days of age. By about 90 days, they achieve full adult fur and coloring, and begin to venture further from the nest. They are generally weaned at around six to eight months of age. The cubs stay with the mother until the next litter is born the following summer. Males rarely help raise the young, and only if they live in pairs or small groups.
The Red Panda is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 individuals. The population continues to decline, in the wild, as the species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.