Red pandas and penguins and flamingos, oh my!
It’s been an eventful summer for newborn animals at the Idaho Falls Zoo.
Zoo officials announced Thursday that a red panda was born there June 29 for the first time ever.
Delilah, the zoo’s 6-year-old female red panda, gave birth to two cubs but one died shortly after birth. The other is “doing very well,” a zoo news release said. The cub is being hand-raised by zoo staff to ensure its well-being. Over the next several days, zoo visitors can see the male cub in the Primate Center and watch him being fed at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily. (It’s not uncommon for first-time moms to exhibit confusion or disinterest in raising young, the release said.)
But the cub won’t be in Idaho Falls for long. He’s soon to be transferred to Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee by private jet as part of the red panda Species Survival Plan.
Species Survival Plans are cooperatively managed breeding programs between Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities that manage captive threatened or endangered species. Red pandas are endangered, so each new cub is “extremely important to the future of the species,” the release said.
The cub will continue being hand-raised at Zoo Knoxville with other red panda cubs because being raised with others of his species is crucial to their healthy development, the release said.
“We, of course, want to give this little cub the best chance possible for a healthy future, and that means ensuring he’s raised with other cubs of his species,” Zoo Director David Pennock said in the release.
The cub is especially dear to the zoo as his father, Winston, died this week due to a medical issue. Zoo staff will work with red panda Species Survival Plan representatives to find Delilah a new mate.
Red pandas can grow up to 25 inches long with tails up to 19 inches long and can weigh up to 14 pounds, the zoo website said. They are found in bamboo and temperate forests in parts of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China, the website said. They are typically found in high elevations in cold mountain areas.