Endangered red panda kits born at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park

27/06/2017 in Highland Wildlife Park

Highland Wildlife Park - Red pandas Kitty & Kevyn

 

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park staff are happy to announce that female red panda Kitty has given birth to two kits!

The new arrivals were born on 14 June. Currently around the same size as a hamster, the twins will not be visible to visitors until around September, when they will start to venture out of the den.

 

Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, said:

 

“This is our third litter of red pandas from Kevyn and Kitty, the previous kits being born in 2013 and 2014.

 

“Our red pandas are part of the global captive breeding programme that is managed out of Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.  The primary roles of the zoo pandas are to act as a safety net population should the species become extinct in the wild and to potentially provide animals for reintroduction.”

 

The red panda is actually more at risk in the wild than its namesake the giant panda, with conservation efforts (including those of RZSS) helping the giant panda move from endangered to vulnerable on the IUCN Red List last year. It is hoped that similar efforts with the red panda will see the species’ decline reversed.

 

Red pandas are native to the Nepal, Bhutan, north east India, Myanmar and south-central China. The name "panda" comes from the Nepalese word "nigalya panya", which means "bamboo eater".

 

Listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, their global population is estimated to be lower than 10,000 individuals and continues to decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as poaching and accidental trapping.

 

Red panda facts:

  • Red pandas are slightly larger than your average domestic cat, with a bear-like body
  • Although they are called red pandas, they are actually not related to their famous black and white counterpart, the giant panda
  • Red pandas are the only living member of the Ailuridae family and their taxonomic position has been highly debated amongst scientists
  • Red pandas are found in the mountains and high-altitude forests of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China
  • Red pandas are genetically classed as carnivores, but they eat very little meat. Instead they prefer mostly bamboo, fruits, eggs and flowers
  • Like giant pandas, red pandas have a false thumb or extended wrist bone which allows them to grasp bamboo

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