Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 19, 2016

Chattanooga Zoo welcomes red panda cubs

The public debut of this cub and his sibling will depend on when their mother feels they are ready to leave the nest den.

The Chattanooga Zoo this month announced the birth of two red panda cubs. The two male cubs were born at the zoo on July 10 to first time parents, Wyatt and Maina.

“Having seen firsthand the threats red pandas face in the wild, I’m proud to play a part in their conservation through our work with the Species Survival Plan,” said Betsy Eckermann, red panda primary keeper. “The birth of two healthy, genetically diverse red pandas is exciting.”

Wyatt and Maina were placed together as a breeding pair in 2014 through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, red pandas are listed as an endangered species. The biggest threat to their survival is habitat loss.

The cubs, which are not yet named, are still dependent on their mother’s milk, and will not be visible to the public for quite some time. It can take up to four months for red pandas to mature and adapt. Their public debut will depend on when their mother feels they are ready to leave the nest den. 

The Chattanooga Zoo first began housing red pandas in 1998 with a singly housed male, Nigalya. However, Maina and Wyatt are the first SSP breeding pair to be united at the Chattanooga Zoo, and this is the Zoo’s first red panda birth.

Dardenelle Long, Zoo CEO and president, said, “After caring for these animals, partnering with conservation organizations, building and adding to exhibits, and studying this species and their behaviors, it’s rewarding for our staff to experience the miracle of birth and see their hard work pay off. We’re excited to have another SSP birth success, and are looking forward to seeing these cubs grow.”

Source: Chattanooga Zoo