06 25/06/2018

Red panda makes adorable debut at Chester Zoo

A colourful red panda has made an adorable debut at Chester Zoo.

  • One-year-old male red panda ‘Koda’ is the newest adorable addition to Chester Zoo
  • Koda has been selected as an ideal genetic pairing for the zoo’s resident female, Nima
  • Keepers hope the new couple will breed as part of endangered species breeding programme
  • Red pandas are now endangered in the wild, with populations plummeting by 40% in the last 50 years
  • Deforestation, poaching for their iconic red fur and the illegal pet trade means fewer than 10,000 survive
Peek-a-boo: Chester Zoo’s newest arrival, Koda the red panda, explores his new home at Chester Zoo.

The one-year-old male, Koda, arrived from a zoo in Cornwall after being chosen as the perfect companion for the zoo’s resident female, Nima.

The duo were found to be genetically compatible as part of a breeding programme to boost numbers of the endangered species.

The pair have been slowly introduced to one another by the zoo’s expert team who hope that they will get along famously and produce cubs in the future.  

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said:

Our new arrival, Koda, spent the first few days exploring his new home, climbing trees and chewing his way through lots of bamboo! He’s settled in really well. Although slightly shy at the beginning, he soon built up enough confidence to introduce himself to our resident female, Nima – which is a really encouraging sign. 

His genetics are absolutely vital to the future conservation breeding of red pandas, as habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade and poaching pushes their numbers to a new low in the wild.

Hopefully, Koda and Nima go on to have a furry family of their own together, helping to boost those numbers just that little bit more.

Red pandas are native to the mountainous regions of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China. But now, numbers in the wild are estimated to be fewer than 10,000 – a 40% decline over the past 50 years.

The drop in numbers is a direct result of human actions, such as widespread habitat loss, trapping for the illegal pet trade and poaching for their iconic red fur – which in parts of the world is used to make hats for newly-weds as a symbol of happy marriage.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have called for visitors help to fight the illegal wildlife trade that is driving species to extinction globally. Public are asked to report any suspicious activity they may spot, online or on holiday, via Chester Zoo’s online illegal wildlife trade reporting form.

Chester Zoo is also fighting for the future of red pandas through habitat-focused conservation projects in the Sichuan Mountains of China, where they can be found among the bamboo forests.

In China red pandas are known as ‘firefoxes’ and are in fact, the original panda. The species was discovered 50 years before the giant panda and share the name because of a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

Red panda facts

  • Koda arrived at Chester Zoo on 6 June 2018
  • Red pandas are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species
  • Recent estimates suggest there are only 10,000 individuals left in the wild
  • Threats to this species are habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade and poaching
  • The ultimate cause of these threats is due to the high rate of human growth in the surrounding areas
  • Their range is known to cover Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China
  • At first glance red pandas look similar to racoons, having long, bushy tails, patterned with 12 alternating rich red and buff coloured rings
  • An average adult will be 50-64cm in length and will weigh 3-6kg

Notes to editors

  • Chester Zoo is a registered conservation and education charity that supports projects around the world and closer to home in Cheshire. Welcoming over 1.86 million visitors a year, it is the most visited zoo in the UK; home to over 21,000 animals from around 500 different species, many of which are endangered in the wild
  • Chester Zoo is England’s most visited tourist attraction outside London, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)
  • In August 2017 the zoo was named the UK’s best zoo and the third best zoo in the world by users of travel website, TripAdvisor
  • Through its wildlife conservation campaign, Act for Wildlife, the zoo is helping to save highly threatened species around the world from extinction. Find out more at www.actforwildlife.org.uk
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