Auckland Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two Nepalese red panda cubs, The pair are an extremely valuable addition to the international breeding programme for this endangered species.
The zoo's carnivores team leader, Lauren Booth, says that the twins were born just after 3am on Thursday 14 January. While it is still early days, everything is going well with mum and the cubs.
“By watching the nest box cameras we’ve set up, we can see they have both been suckling. We couldn’t ask for a better mum in Bo.”
The twins are the fifth and sixth offspring of six-year-old mum Bo (who arrived at Auckland Zoo in mid-2012) and the last of 15-year-old Sagar, who was euthanised in December 2015.
“The average lifespan of a red panda is eight to 12 years, so Sagar reached a great old age for a red panda. But due to his age he had developed a spinal condition that was at the point where treatment was not able to increase his quality of life,” says Lauren.
“Ever since arriving from Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, he had an amazing personality. He’s left a great legacy within the region fathering six cubs over the course of three years. With these two being the last of his legacy with Bo, it was nice to have this positive to focus on as we said a difficult goodbye.”
Lauren says that red pandas develop slowly and are dependent on their mother for at least three months, so it will be some time before visitors see the cubs venturing out of their nest box and around the enclosure with Bo.
“We’re keeping a regular watch on the cubs, but taking a very hands-off approach so Bo can continue to do the great job she’s doing, and we minimise any potential stress for her. Around late February will be a safe time for us to do a full vet check on the cubs to find out whether we have boys or girls or both,” she says.
Although it shares the same name, the red panda is not related to the giant panda. In fact, the red panda is not related to any other animals, making it unique.
Council-controlled organisation Regional Facilities Auckland manages major regional facilities and iconic venues across Auckland, including Auckland Zoo.