NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginia Zoo is welcoming two red panda cubs to mom, two-year-old Masu, and dad, three-year-old Timur.
The cubs, who are both males, were born off-exhibit at the Zoo’s Animal Wellness Campus in June. Red panda cubs weigh approximately five ounces at birth, but now weigh in at just over one pound.
“We wanted to give Masu the best chance possible to successfully birth and raise healthy cubs,” said Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s veterinarian. “We decided to move Masu to the Wellness Campus while she was still pregnant to give her the privacy and space she needed with as few disturbances and distractions as possible.”
Red panda experts have found this species has better success when the mothers are able to give birth and provide the initial few months of care of their cubs off exhibit.
First-time mom Masu gave birth in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she has since been nursing and bonding with her cubs in a quiet environment. The den is off view to the public and is monitored by zoo keepers and animal care staff. As she gradually gets more comfortable with her zoo keepers around the cubs and the boys are confident to safely navigate the trees and other exhibit features, the three will make their way to the original red panda exhibit off the main pathway.
“This is a significant birth for the species as there are less than 10,000 red pandas left in the wild,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “There has been a sharp decline in their population due to a loss of nesting trees and food resources in their native region, they are also hunted for their pelts. We are excited for the terrific care Masu has been providing for her cubs and look forward to having them on exhibit later this year.”
The male cubs have yet to be named, but the Zoo will announce them soon. Look for updates on the cubs and Masu on the Zoo’s Facebook page.