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Celebrating birth of red panda twins!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

For the first time in nearly three decades, we are celebrating the birth of red pandas: twin cubs born on June 19 to 2-year-old mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko. The twins are the first offspring for Hazel while Yukiko has had offspring before he arrived at Woodland Park Zoo four years ago.

Video: Red panda twins receive a quick health check from veterinary staff:

The cubs are both girls, weighing in at 5 ounces each, confirmed during a neonatal exam. The zoo veterinary team says the twins are appropriate weightsa good indicator they are healthy and nursing. "We will continue to perform health check-ups periodically, particularly during the first several weeks, for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling,” says Dr. Darin Collins.

Both Hazel and Yukiko have been living off-view indoor and outdoors. Hazel gave birth in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she is nursing and bonding with her cubs. Because red pandas are largely solitary, Yukiko will remain separated from the new family. 

This is Hazel, the mother of the twins. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren. Woodland Park Zoo.

This is Yukiko, father of the new twins. Photo by John Loughlin, Woodland Park Zoo.

Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo, said the first month is an important time for newborn red pandas. “We’re monitoring the new family via a den cam to ensure the cubs are thriving. Our animal care staff have minimal physical contact with the mom and cubs in order to minimize disturbance and allow Hazel a quiet environment. At this early stage, we’re seeing great maternal care and nursing events,” says Myers.

The gestation period for red pandas, between 90 and 160 days, varies widely because female red pandas have the ability to delay implanting a fertile egg. Red pandas are born extremely small and blind at birth, and rely solely on their mom for care. During the first several days of their lives, they do little but nurse and sleep. The twins should open their eyes at 2 to 3 weeks of age.

The animal care team is currently discussing potential plans for allowing the public to see Hazel and her cubs toward the end of the summer. “Red pandas are very charismatic animals. We have a large following of red panda fans at our zoo and on social media, so it’s our hope we can share our new family with zoo guests in the near future,” said Myers.

Hazel arrived at Woodland Park Zoo two years ago to be paired with Yukiko under the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of red pandas. 

This is Carson, a red panda who lives at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

Red pandas share the name of giant pandas, but more closely resemble raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to skunks, weasels and raccoons.

An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with giant pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal. Help support the project by adopting a red panda through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.

We are so thrilled to welcome the twins! Mom, Hazel, is doing a great job protecting her cubs and nursing. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

We are thrilled to welcome the twins and look forward to sharing more with you all right here as we watch them grow.


Unknown said…
Believe it or not here at WashtechU we have incorporated the red panda as our mascot and would love to find out what it would take for us to name one of the twins?
Anonymous said…
I'd ask for both - Wash and Tech! It represents the state well.
torrents said…
Happy birthday, cute red pandas, I just wanna hug you tightly