The Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of two, male Red Panda cubs on August 27. The brothers, who don't have names yet, have been quietly spending time behind the scenes with their mother, Faith, in a nest box.
Keepers say the cubs are doing well and growing fast; they currently each weigh just over one pound. They won't, however, be visible to the public for another few weeks, when they'll be more developed and ready to join their father, Hamlet, in the Zoo's Red Panda enclosure.
Denver Zoo animal care staff and veterinarians are keeping a close eye on the cubs, performing regular exams to check their weight, temperature and overall wellness. In their first days of life, the cubs received some supplemental feedings. However, keepers say the cubs and mother are thriving, and that the brothers are pretty feisty when they wrestle each other.
This is both parents' second litter. Faith was born in June 2014 at Toronto Zoo; Hamlet was born in July 2013 at Lee Richardson Zoo in Kansas. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) brought the two to Denver Zoo, Faith from Trevor Park Zoo in New York and Hamlet from Toronto Zoo, in 2015 under a breeding recommendation, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. The couple’s first litter of cubs, Lali and Masu, was born at Denver Zoo in June 2016. By recommendation of the SSP, Lali moved to Scovill Zoo in Illinois, and Masu was moved to Norfolk Zoo in Virgina in April of this year.
Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are native to Asia and are most commonly found in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. As their name suggests, the animals are red and have off-white markings, large puffy tails and pointed ears. Red Pandas, like Giant Pandas, have very specialized diet requirements and eat a large amount of bamboo daily.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Red Pandas as “Endangered”. According to the IUCN, their biggest threats come from habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation and physical threats. Red Pandas are part of the Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) in zoos around the world. GSMP is allied with field conservation efforts for animals around the world.