Keepers at Banham Zoo are thrilled to announce the latest addition to the zoo, a male red panda cub, an extremely valuable addition to the ongoing international efforts to protect this threatened species.
The cub, who is yet to be named, was born this summer to the zoo’s pair of red pandas, Jasper and Maggie. The two adult pandas have been together since 2015, producing a female cub in 2016.
In European zoos, Red pandas usually mate in early spring and will give birth usually to one or two cubs after a gestation period of approximately four months.
Keepers at the zoo were convinced that Maggie was pregnant again this year and closely monitored her behaviour. They were proved correct when the cub was born in late July.
Maggie is doing an excellent job caring for her baby, staying in the nesting box for long periods of time. Red panda cubs spend the first two to three months inside their nesting box, and although the keepers have decided to take a “hands-off” approach, they have managed to get an occasional glimpse of the infant to ensure that all is well.
The cub has started to explore its surroundings, occasionally venturing out of the nesting box with mum Maggie to the delight of keepers and visitors.
Animal Manager, Mike Woolham said, “We are delighted with our latest addition. The conservation of the animals in our care is of paramount importance to us and we hope that our latest arrival may throw the spotlight on the plight of this species and others under severe threat in South-east Asia”.
Red pandas are listed as endangered and numbers in the wild are believed to have decreased by 50% in less than 20 years due to massive habitat loss and an increase in human poaching for their meat and beautiful red fur.
The cub will remain with his parents at the zoo for at least a year. Once he reaches maturity the European and International Studbook Coordinator for the species will recommend transferring him to another zoo, where he will most likely join a female to make up a new pair. They will hopefully then produce young of their own, helping to ensure the survival of the species.