Two Red Panda cubs are being hand-reared by keepers after their mother died unexpectedly at the Chattanooga Zoo.
Born on July 10, the cubs would not be fully weaned from their mother’s milk for at least two more months. The staff feeds the cubs a mashed biscuit diet with a spoon three times a day. The two male cubs are enthusiastic, if messy, eaters. They have not yet been named.
Zoo keepers report that the cubs are playful, and they have confidence that the cubs will continue to thrive, despite the challenging circumstances.
Red Pandas are native to the Himalayan Mountains, where they inhabit forested foothills. They feed mainly on bamboo, but also eat eggs, birds, and insects. Due to habitat loss, poaching, and inbreeding, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas are believed to survive in the wild. They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The breeding of Red Pandas in North American zoos is managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches individuals for breeding based on their genetic background. The goal of the SSP is to maximize genetic diversity in zoo-dwelling populations of rare animals.