30 October 2019

A pair of endangered red panda cubs have been spotted emerging from their den for the first time!

The rare twins – named Huo Hu, meaning ‘Firefox’, and Tiang Tang, meaning ‘Heaven’ – were born at the zoo in June this year. After staying tucked up in nest boxes for several months – with mum, Nima and dad, Koda – they have now been photographed exploring their outside habitat at the zoo.

Classed by conservationists as endangered in the wild, red pandas are found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China. Their population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 – a 40% decline in just 50 years. Our conservationists are part of a Europe-wide breeding programme for the species, aimed at boosting their population.

PSSSTT

Red pandas are the most incredible, beautiful species, but they’re under serious threat in the wild from human activity.

Andrew Mckenzie

Andrew Mckenzie, Deputy Curator of Mammals, said:

“Widespread habitat destruction, trapping for the illegal pet trade and poaching for fur have led to a rapidly decreasing population. A world without red pandas is simply unthinkable, so the European breeding programme for the species is increasingly important. That’s what makes these new arrivals even more special to us.

“Thankfully, our little male Huo Hu and his sister Tiang Tang are thriving. After snuggling up in their nest boxes over summer, they’re now looking big and strong. They’re ready to explore!”

In recent years, we’ve been fighting for the future of the red panda through habitat-focused conservation projects in the Sichuan Mountains of China, where the pandas can be found among the bamboo forests.

Red panda facts

  • Red pandas are listed as Endangered 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
  • In China, red pandas are known as ‘fire foxes’ 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

Find out more about red pandas!

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