Twin Red Panda cubs were born June 21 at Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The two healthy male cubs were born to the Zoo’s resident breeding pair: mother, Tabei, and father, Ketu.
The cubs are currently being hand-raised by keepers. Zoo Director, Ted Fox, shared that Tabei demonstrated some initial difficulty in caring for them on her own. Keepers are providing bottle-feeds every four hours and monitoring the cubs’ intake and weights.
Keepers have named the cubs ‘Loofah’ and ‘Doofah’, from the film, “The Land Before Time” (also a nod to the Zoo’s summer-long Dinosaur Invasion exhibit).
Red Pandas are an endangered species, with fewer than 10,000 estimated remaining in the wild in the Himalayan Mountains. They are called pandas because, like the Giant Pandas of China, they eat primarily bamboo. The word “panda” comes from a Nepali word meaning “bamboo eater.”
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is involved in increasing the Red Panda population through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Red Pandas overseen by its accrediting organization, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The Red Panda SSP works to pair unrelated animals from a diverse gene pool in the interest of producing healthy offspring for survival of the species.
Onondaga County Executive, Joanie Mahoney, praised the Zoo for its success in breeding these endangered animals: “Having recently celebrated National Zookeeper Week, we can say that we are very proud of our Zoo staff and we appreciate their dedication and hard work on behalf of all the animals in their care.”
The new cubs are Tabei’s third set of offspring since 2015. Her first cubs, males Rohan and Pumori, went on to start their own families at the Central Park Zoo and the Erie Zoo. Ravi and Amaya, a male and female born in 2016, are now at the Detroit Zoo and the Sacramento Zoo respectively.
The new cubs will continue to be hand-fed and monitored by zookeepers while being kept in an isolette in the Zoo’s Veterinary Clinic. As they get larger, they will be moved to the glass-enclosed room off the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s upper lobby. According to keepers, they should be ready to move to the Red Panda habitat on the zoo’s Wildlife Trail later this year.