For the first time in 15 years, Smithsonian National Zoo can say, “I can has red pandeh.” Last month, resident red pandas Shama and Tate had their first cub.
Red pandas, native to the forests of the Himalayas, are classified as a “vulnerable” species, with anywhere from 2,500 to as high as 20,000 still living in the wild.
Red pandas are difficult to find, so it’s hard to obtain accurate figures.
Zoo officials say maintaining a thriving captive population of red pandas is an important part of preserving the species as numbers in the wild remain threatened.
Luckily red pandas do well in captivity, with more than 800 in zoos across the world. Tate, the cub’s daddy, was actually transferred from a zoo in Nashville, in hopes that the two would mate – clearly it worked.
Red pandas, like giant pandas, have a short window of time for the females to get pregnant, so the zoo keepers played some Marvin Gaye to help them out. Kidding.
Momma and cub, who weighed 6.5 ounces, are doing fine, with Shama proving to be a good first-time mom, but just in case, workers have closed off the red panda section of the zoo. It’ll reopen when zoo keepers feel its safe to show off their newest arrival.
A baby red panda? That’s cute overload! It may never be safe, for the public that is. People’s heads will explode! I’m barely keeping it together as it is.
Image credit: National Zoo