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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Red panda cubs born on Nordens Ark

In mid-June, two red panda cubs were born at Nordens Ark, a female and a male. The cubs are born blind and are completely dependent on the mother and it takes a couple of weeks before they open their eyes and another couple of months before they curiously peek out of the nest.

At the end of September, they will embark on a journey of discovery in the enclosure, to the delight of visitors. The red panda is a key species in Nepal's mountain forests and this year's young are important in helping to create awareness of the threats to the species.

-There are few animals that are equally cute as newborns as adults, says Ewa Wikberg, zoological curator at Nordens Ark, but panda cubs look like tiny mini-copies of adult pandas, very cute. 

At the first vet visit, a general health check is made of the cubs, looking at eyes, ears and fur. You check weight (the female now weighs 770 grams and a male 960 grams) and gender and mark the cubs with a microchip. Everything looked as it should and the cubs are fine.

One of this year's panda cubs at Nordens Ark. Photo: Marie Mattsson

The red panda is a small predator that lives high up in the mountain forests of the Eastern Himalayas. Like many other species in the area, it is highly endangered and there may be as few as 2,500 individuals left in the wild.

The threat to the area and the species that live there is extremely complex where deforestation, environmental degradation, illegal hunting and trade in endangered animals all come into play. In the panda's distribution area, there are countless other species that are also threatened when the mountain forests decrease or disappear.

Nordens Ark is working on two different projects to save the red pandas and the species-rich mountain forests in Nepal. Thanks to cooperation with the Red Panda Network and with funding from the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Fondation Segré, work is now underway in both eastern and western Nepal.

- This year's panda cubs will hopefully help us create awareness about the threats against the red pandas and our projects to save them, says Ewa.