Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a male Red Panda cub, the 45th of the vulnerable species to be born at the Zoo since 1977.
The male cub, was born to mother, ‘Wanmei’ and father, ‘Mayhem’ in December 2010, and has just started venturing out of the maternal nest box to explore the outside world.
The cub has been named ‘Seba’, meaning ‘reward’ in Nepalese.
Taronga Zoo Carnivore Keeper, Deborah Price, said: “An animal birth is always a cause for celebration, but we’re particularly proud of our Red Panda Breeding Program. We have the best breeding record in the southern hemisphere, so we’re really happy to welcome another little cub into the world.”
“Red Pandas usually spend the first couple of months of their lives tucked up inside their nest boxes and we’ve been waiting and waiting to share him with Zoo visitors, but we knew he would start venturing out in his own good time, “ said Deborah.
“Seba is the first cub that Wanmei has had in the new harbour-front exhibit and it was interesting to watch her move him between the nest boxes shortly after he was born.”
“She is a very experienced and meticulous mother and obviously had a preference for where she wanted to nestle Seba during his early days. We’ve also seen both parents and the cub snuggled up inside the nest box together which is lovely.”
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“Even though it has taken Seba a little longer to emerge than previous cubs, he is much feistier than Wanmei’s other offspring. He’s definitely got a strong personality!”
“Other cubs have allowed us to handle them regularly for health checks and the last cub, ‘Pemba’ loved us hand-feeding him grapes, but Seba lives up to the fiery reputation of redheads, he has attitude and can be very standoffish with us.”
“This a fantastic reaction because Seba is acting just like a wild Red Panda cub would, and that means we have done our job perfectly, replicating the natural situation.”
Despite the bravado, like most Red Pandas Seba is quite cautious of everything around him, so as he gets used to life outside the nest box, Zoo visitors will need to take the time to spot him in the dense undergrowth or camouflaged in the treetops.
Red Pandas are listed as a vulnerable species, with less than 10,000 mature individuals existing in the wild. The species live across the Himalayan mountains and foothills of northern India, China, Nepal, Indian and Bhutan. They are threatened due to illegal hunting and deforestation of their natural habitat. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other.
The breeding program at Taronga Zoo helps ensure a future for the species by providing a safety-net against extinction for Red Pandas.