Red panda twins are expected to be a big Auckland Zoo drawcard from about March.
That's when the Nepalese red panda cubs, born on January 3, are likely to be out of their nesting box.
Each weighed about 100 grams at birth and are the second and third offspring of four-year-old mum Bo and 13-year-old Sagar, who just over a year ago produced their first-born, male Pabu.
The twins are very valuable additions to the international breeding programme for this threatened species, whose population continues to decline in the wild, acting carnivore team leader Lauren Booth says.
Ms Booth says like Pabu, who will relocate to another zoo in Australia within the next six months, the yet-to-be named and sexed cubs will also in time leave Auckland Zoo to contribute to the international breeding programme.
"As zoos we work together to ensure genetic diversity is achieved for insurance populations like the red panda - which is vital, but it is an insurance policy, not a solution.
"Increasingly, we're part of conservation efforts in the wild. Auckland Zoo continues to grow its support of Red Panda Network, whose outstanding community education and forest guardianship programmes in eastern Nepal are playing a vital role in helping protect this species that's threatened by habitat loss and poaching," she says.
The average lifespan of a red panda is eight to 12 years but these animals can live considerably longer in zoos.
They communicate with squeaks, chattering noises and chipmunk-like sounds.
The red panda is not related to the giant panda or any other animals, making it unique.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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