Two rare red panda cubs have been born at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon. They are the first to be born there since 2004.
The cubs, a male and a female, were born in July but have not been visible to visitors before this because they spend time developing in the nest before they are ready to explore the world. The young remain with their mother for a year.
“Father Randy is three years old and came to Paignton from Dortmund Zoo in Germany in September 2008,” said a press release from the zoo’s press and public relations officer Philip Knowling. “Mother Mandy is six and came from Dublin Zoo in January 2008.”
The animals look more like a raccoon than a panda, with red-brown fur, a long bushy tail and mask-like facial markings.
Their diet consists of bamboo shoots, grass, roots, fruit, acorns and occasionally mice and birds. They have furry paw pads which help conserve body heat and prevent them from slipping on wet and snowy surfaces.
In the wild the red panda, also known as the lesser panda, lives in the mountain forests of Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal. The mainly nocturnal animals form pairs and live in small family groups.
The red panda is classed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, meaning it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.