Nashville Zoo Home to Newly-Born Female Red Panda

First Posted: Sep 08, 2014 06:34 AM EDT

The staff of Nashville Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a red panda cub, born on July 3.

In a latest announcement, Nashville Zoo revealed the birth of a female red panda that was born on July 3, the first red panda born at the zoo this fall. The unnamed female cub is seen bonding well with her mother. The duo is currently kept off the exhibit so that they can spend sufficient time together and bond well.

Native to the mountainous region of Central China, Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma), red pandas are known for their teddy bear-like appearance. Red pandas are larger than a domestic cat. These solitary creatures are considered vulnerable to extinction mainly due to destruction of habitat. Apart from this, the lower rate of reproduction and high infant mortality rates make it challenging for the species to rebound from population declines.

"Red panda mothers are very prone to stress and easily agitated, which could cause them to reject or unintentionally harm the cubs," said Karen Rice, carnivore supervisor. "Because of the high infant mortality rate, we took every precaution possible to ensure the baby was delivered and cared for safely."

Before the female red panda gives birth to her young one, she needs to be made comfortable by 'denning' her in an area where she feels at ease. In this case, the mother red panda was denned up right from May as they estimated the birth date to be June or early July.

The mother was kept enclosed in a region that she was comfortable in. Her signs of stress were constantly monitored by the staff. Using video cameras they monitored the nest boxes that were kept in the enclosure. 

Using the cameras the team captured the birth and other key incidents like mother nursing the cub, over-grooming by the mother. The pair was left undisturbed.

"After our female gave birth we made the decision to continue our hands-off approach since all was going so well. At one month of age, we did our first neonate exam and determined the cub to be female, in good health and weighing just under two pounds. The cub and mom both did well and were happily reunited right after," said Rice.

Once the little red panda gets a year old, she will be moved out of the zoo in order to be paired with a mate for breeding.

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