Saturday, 19 July 2014

Birth of twin red pandas gives hope for future of one of the rarest - and cutest - mammals

A red panda standing on the groundIt was a regular Monday morning at Drusillas Park in East Sussex when head keeper Mark Kenward went in to check on the centre's red pandas as part of his daily rounds. The creatures were in the enclosure that has been their home since they were brought to Alfriston last year, having been paired as part of the European breeding programme from their respective homes in Asson Zoo, France, and Paignton Zoo, in Devon.

On this particular visit last month, Kenward was met by Tibao, the male. This in itself was a little odd – it was usually Mulan, the female, the more outgoing of the pair, who was first to say hello. Mulan, though, was nowhere to be seen so Kenward called out to her.

Moments later, the day took a heart-melting turn when she emerged from a nest box. She was gently carrying in her mouth one of two new babies, which have added precious numbers to some 10,000 adult red pandas remaining in the wild. "She brought the cub over, as if to show me, before returning to the box," Kenward says. "I can't explain how happy I was."

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