The results are in! Names have been chosen for Woodland Park Zoo’s Red Panda sisters.
The first fuzzy cub is now known as Zeya (ZAY-uh), meaning “success” in Burmese, and the second cub has been named Ila (EE-la), meaning “earth” in Sanskrit.
Zeya’s name was chosen by more than 1,600 participants in online voting between three names selected by the zookeepers. Ila’s name was chosen by the Rosauer family (longtime friends and of the zoo).
The Red Panda cubs, like many of the zoo’s other animals, were named to honor the land that they are native to. Red Pandas are indigenous to the Himalayan mountain region that includes parts of Nepal, Myanmar, China and northern regions of India. “Zeya” is derived from the Burmese language, which is the official language of Myanmar. “Ila” can be translated as “earth” and comes from the ancient Sanskrit language from which many modern languages spoken in India are derived.
The twin cubs were born in June to 2-year-old first-time mom, Hazel, and 13-year-old dad, Yukiko. This was the first successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo in nearly three decades – the last successful birth was in 1989.
Mom, Hazel, lives in a private, indoor climate-controlled den where she can continue to nurse and bond with her babies in a calm and quiet environment; the den is off view to zoo guests. Yukiko does not yet have contact with his new family, but introductions may be planned in the near future.
The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs in the outdoor public exhibit in mid-October to late November.
Red Pandas share the name of Giant Pandas, but more closely resemble raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to skunks, raccoons and weasels. Red Pandas are an endangered species native to the bamboo forests of China, the Himalayas and Myanmar. Because of deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continued pressure from growing local populations, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in the wild.
Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal. The public can help support the project by adopting a Red Panda through Woodland Park Zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.
The Endangered Species Act protects endangered animals, like Red Pandas, and is under threat by proposed changes that would significantly weaken protections for endangered species. These changes are open to public comment. For more information and to join Woodland Park Zoo in urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind the proposed rule changes, visit: https://www.zoo.org/esa