Red panda’s birth in NZ zoo offers hope for species survival
WELLINGTON (Bernama) – Zookeepers in New Zealand are celebrating a birth among one of Asia’s most at-risk animals as part of an international breeding programme, Xinhua news agency reported.
The rare Nepalese red panda, which weighed only 105 grammes at birth at the Auckland Zoo on Dec 24 last year, has since grown to about 240 grammes.
The cub was the first offspring of three-year-old female Bo, who arrived at the zoo in mid-2012, and 12-year-old Sagar, and was the first red panda to be born at the zoo since 2002.
“This birth is a fantastic result especially as Bo was only introduced to Sagar last August, and given female red pandas come into season just twice a year and a male has only a one to two-day window to mate a female,” carnivore team leader Bruce Murdock said in a statement.
“We couldn’t ask for a better mum in Bo. She’s doing an exceptional job, staying in the nest box for long periods and feeding her cub up to six times a day, and being very attentive.”
Red pandas developed slowly and were dependent for at least three months, so it could be another eight to 10 weeks before visitors could see the cub venture out of its nest box and around the enclosure, Murdock said.
“Around late February will be a safe time for us to do a full vet check on the cub. We’re not absolutely sure, but bets are on that we have a female,” he added.
Besides Bo, Sagar and the newborn, Auckland Zoo has two other red pandas: 16-year-old Maya and 12-year-old daughter Amber.
As part of the international breeding programme for the red pandas, Auckland Zoo sent female red panda Khosuva to India’s Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, where she was paired up with a breeding male as part of Project Red Panda with a plan to release Khosuva’s offspring into the wild in Nepal.
In return, Sagar arrived at Auckland Zoo in 2010 from Darjeeling Zoo.
In February last year, New Zealand’s Hamilton Zoo announced it had successfully bred its first red panda – a survivor of twins.