Posted on 11th March 2019 by Media Relations
Taronga Zoo Sydney is tickled pink to announce the birth of three rare Red Panda cubs on 7 December 2018. Although the cubs were born last year, they have only emerged from their nest box this week after a typically slow development over the last three months.
Second-time mother Amala, who is five years old, has been nurturing the cubs with milk in the seclusion of her nest box, away from the cubs’ father Pabu who is six years old. Given how protective Amala is, and the slow development of Red Panda cubs, keepers have only recently confirmed one cub is female named Mishry (Meaning sweet) and the other two are male, recently named Rohan (ascending) and Ishwar (powerful).
Found across the Himalayas, including China and Nepal, the Red Panda is increasingly rare in the wild, with less than 10,000 remaining due to the illegal wildlife trade, and capture in traps intended for deer and wild pigs. To help prevent the extinction of this species, Taronga Zoo Sydney is supporting a worldwide breeding program to ensure a genetically diverse insurance population.
The global breeding program is part of a coordinated plan to help protect the endangered species, which also includes protection and restoration of their wild habitat, and wildlife-friendly livelihood support for Nepalese families living in Red Panda habitat.
Carnivore Keepers at Taronga Zoo Sydney report that Amala is doing well. Although it’s early days in their development, keepers are monitoring their progress closely. However at this stage, Amala and her cubs are growing well and suckling for milk.
Keepers expect that over the next 10-12 weeks, the cubs will start to sample solid foods such as bamboo, venturing outside the nest box more often during daylight hours, and learning to climb and venture up trees where they usually live.
Carnivore Keeper Ben Haynes said it was a thrill for keepers to finally meet the cubs.
“Over the last three months, we’ve been tracking the development of the cubs through CCTV cameras in Amala’s nest box, so it’s incredible to see them for the first time,” said Keeper Ben.
“With perfect timing, Amala and her cubs can now be seen ahead of the autumn school holidays, learning to climb and playing with each other,” Keeper Ben said.
“It’s heartbreaking that their brilliant red fur makes them a target for the illegal wildlife trade. Australians can help protect these cute and captivating little ones, as well as other endangered species such as Sun Bears and Sumatran Tigers through Taronga’s Wildlife Witness app,” he said.