Philadelphia Zoo recently announced the birth of two Red Panda cubs. The twins, male and female, were born to parents Basil and Spark (both 5-year-olds), on June 26.
“We are thrilled at the birth of these new cubs,” said Kevin Murphy, Philadelphia Zoo’s General Curator. “The birth is important in the Zoo’s efforts in Red Panda conservation. We work with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth marks an important step towards the plan.”
Mother and twins are doing very well. Spark, an excellent mother, is tending to the very active cubs. The duo are nursing from Spark, as well as eating independently. Their diet consists of fresh bamboo, grapes, apples and biscuits formulated for Red Pandas.
Keepers continue to observe the cubs and their mother, while providing as much privacy as needed. The cubs made their public debut on Wednesday, November 18.
Currently, the Zoo is enlisting the help of Zoo visitors and social media followers to name the Red Panda cubs. Today, November 25, is the final day to vote on the selected names for the twins.
To caste your vote, check out the Philadelphia Zoo’s special webpage: http://philadelphiazoo.org/vote-for-cuteness.htm
The Zoo has preselected the following groups of names for the contest:
Ning (pronounced Nink) - male means of peace
Liling (Pronounced LiLink) - female means white Jasmine sound
Betsy - Ross
Benjamin – Franklin
Ceba - Tibetan for "dear to hold"
Pabu- Tibetan for "puffball"
Ponga- (from Nepali nyala ponga, meaning "eater of bamboo")
Kaala- (name used by the Limbu people of Nepal meaning "dark")
As with the Giant Panda, female Red Pandas are only fertile for just one day a year and can delay implantation until conditions are favorable. They give birth to between one and four young at a time, and the cubs are born with pale fluffy fur, which darkens to the distinctive red coloration of the adults over the first three months.
In the wild, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) inhabits the Himalayan mountains of China, India and Nepal, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting. They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
A way to show your support to Philadelphia Zoo is by contributing to the ADOPT program. Those who adopt a Red Panda by December 31st will get a free mini Red Panda plushie. To ADOPT a Red Panda, visit: www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org/adopt