An endangered red panda cub born at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Edinburgh Zoo in July has been given her first health check and named Ruby, just in time for International Red Panda Day (Saturday 18 September).
Staff at the wildlife conservation charity voted for her name from a shortlist drawn up by keepers as a thank you for their hard work over the last year.
Jo Elliott, animal collection manager, carnivore keeper at Edinburgh Zoo said, “We wanted to give our kit a name which pays homage to red pandas and would also fit nicely with our previous kit’s name, Ruaridh. The carnivore team came up with a shortlist of names and put it out to our colleagues as a vote.
“Everyone at RZSS has worked so hard this last year, providing expert care for all of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park throughout the pandemic and working to connect the public with nature during lockdown. This was a small thing we could do to say thank you.
“Red pandas are a visitor favourite here at the zoo and Ruby’s birth is significant for this endangered species, which is at risk due to habitat loss and poaching.”
Although red pandas are protected in most of their native range, they are still hunted illegally for their fur and tail, which is seen as a lucky charm in some cultures.
Visitors may have to wait a little while longer to spot two-month-old Ruby for themselves, as red panda kits stay in the den until around four months old when they will then start to explore outside.
Jo continued, “As she grows, Ruby’s fur will become redder and her tail will grow bushier. She will start exploring outside with mum at first and then on her own as she becomes more independent.
“Her parents, Bruce and Ginger, can still be seen exploring outside during the day.
“The pair have previously proven themselves as good parents with Ruaridh, who was born here in 2019 and named by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who funded our red panda enclosure.”
Find out more about visiting the zoo at edinburghzoo.org.uk/we-are-open