It’s always great news when a new baby animal is born, especially when that animal is part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a big step forward in repopulating a species and saving them from extinction.
And one zoo had double the reason to celebrate recently, after seeing the birth of not just one but two adorable baby red panda cubs!
The red panda twins, both female, were born at the Idaho Falls Zoo on July 1, the zoo announced this week. It is a special occasion, as it’s only the second time in the zoo’s history that they’ve welcomed red panda cubs.
The twins were born to mother Linda and father Marvin. Zoo staff first discovered the new arrival while checking on the couple’s habitat, and heard the sound of newborns.
“We knew immediately what we were hearing,” General Curator Katie Barry said in a press release. “We’d seen breeding activity between the parents, so we weren’t overly surprised to hear cub noises, but we were absolutely thrilled!”
They had to monitor the cubs carefully, as they weren’t sure if mother Linda was ready to step up and care for them: “Red pandas are known for neglecting or abandoning cubs shortly after birth if conditions aren’t just right,” Katie Barry explained, saying that both parents were hand-raised.
“But she’s proven to be a wonderful new mom and we couldn’t be happier.”
New dad Marvin, meanwhile, is taking a more hands-off approach: Katie says he’s “definitely letting mom take the lead.”
According to the press release, Marvin was the first red panda born at the zoo in 2019, however, his mother neglected to care for him and he was shipped to Zoo Knoxville to be cared for.
But he came back to the Idaho Falls Zoo earlier this year — with his new mate Linda, with whom he was paired with as part of a breeding program under the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums’ (AZA) red panda Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The red panda is listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, with a population of less than 10,000, due to habitat loss and poaching.
“Each new cub is extremely important to the future of the species,” the Idaho Falls Zoo writes.
The cubs are developing and growing well, and are still behind-the-scenes under their mom’s care. The zoo says that one sister is larger than the other, and they may have been born a day apart.
What beautiful red pandas! We’re sure these two adorable cubs are going to win the hearts, and will hopefully inspire even more people to care about this endangered species.