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Red panda born at Franklin Park Zoo

The staff at Franklin Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a female red panda cub.

The cub was born on June 29 to Fia, a first-time mom, and Hoppy. Born helpless and with eyes closed, red panda cubs stay in the nest box with their mother for about the first 90 days of their lives. Since birth, the red panda cub has been bonding with Fia behind the scenes. She is expected to make her exhibit debut in October.

“We are thrilled to announce this exciting birth, and for guests to be able to watch this little one grow and explore when she makes her exhibit debut this fall. Fia is proving to be an excellent and attentive first-time mom, who is doing everything that a new mom should,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO.

This birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Fia and Hoppy. Zoo New England participates in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild.

Zoo New England is committed to the conservation of red pandas and has supported the Red Panda Network, which seeks to save wild red pandas and preserve their habitat by empowering local communities through community-based research, education and carbon mitigation. On Saturday, September 15, guests are invited to celebrate International Red Panda Day at Franklin Park Zoo. Throughout the day, there will be opportunities to speak with the zookeepers who care for the red pandas, and participate in crafts and activities.

About red pandas:

Red pandas, which resemble raccoons, have white and red markings and are covered with dense fur. They use their long, bushy tails to balance when they are in trees. In the wild, red pandas can be found in the cool temperate bamboo forests in the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan in China, as well as in the Himalayas and Myanmar. They share part of their range with giant pandas, a species that despite their name they are not closely related to.

Red pandas, also known as a firefox, have a varied diet, but do eat bamboo. They have a small bony projection on their wrists that helps them grip bamboo stalks. This endangered species is scarce and declining, threatened by habitat loss in the wild.