An adorable and endangered red panda cub has been born at Hertfordshire Zoo
By Zoe Sottile, CNN
The newest resident of Paradise Wildlife Park isn’t just adorable, he’s also a crucial addition to the endangered population of his species.
The Hertfordshire Zoo in the UK welcomed a newborn red panda in July, according to a press release. The little cub is currently called “Red Panda” while the zoo waits until he is old enough for a veterinary examination.
This birth is good news for conservation in the world: there are less than 2,500 red pandas left in the wild, according to the press release.
Native to the eastern Himalayas and southwest China, the cute creatures are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to the IUCN, their population is declining due to habitat loss and hunting for food, medicine and clothing.
And the new cub is also a “miracle” for its parents, according to the zoo. The baby was born to his mother Tilly and his father Nam Pang, who died a month before the baby was born. The pair had been matched through an international breeding program but had failed to conceive for the past four years. But keepers noticed that Tilly had started nesting just two weeks after her mate died.
“Little Red” will not leave its nest for a few months. But visitors to the zoo can still see his mother.
“This little one has become a beacon of hope,” Zoo Operations Coordinator Aaron Whitnall said in the statement. “After Nam Pang’s tragic passing, for his memory and legacy to live on is more than we expected.”
Despite their names, red pandas are more closely related to raccoons and weasels than to black and white pandas, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But both species depend on a diet based on bamboo, which gave them their name. Panda is believed to be derived from the Nepali word “ponya” for “bamboo or herbivorous animal”, according to the WWF.
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