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The SouthCoast’s cutest family just got a little bigger – and a lot more adorable!

Buttonwood Park Zoo’s female red panda, 2 year-old Marie, gave birth to a single cub on June 4, 2020 – the first of its species to be born at BPZOO in its 126 year history. The cub has undergone initial health screenings by Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Erica Lipanovich and at 21 days old weighed a healthy 336 grams and measured just over 10 inches in length. Mom and cub are currently bonding behind the scenes and are both doing well.

“We are beyond thrilled to announce the birth of our first red panda cub at the Zoo,” said BPZOO Director Keith Lovett. “It is wonderful that our guests will have a chance to gain even more of an appreciation of this beautiful species, but it’s also an incredible opportunity for the Zoo to be able to connect our community to the plight of the endangered red panda and our conservation efforts to help protect this species in the wild.”

According to Dr. Lipanovich, the cub will remain in the nest box, which is inside the red panda’s night house, for the next two months. “We are waiting for its eyes to open and for it to start walking. As the cub grows, its thick fur will eventually turn the iconic rusty red color that gives red pandas their name. The cub will join mom and dad outside when it can safely navigate the perching in its habitat.”

The cub will remain with Marie for at least a year.

“Marie has been a fantastic and attentive first time mother,” said BPZOO Red Panda Keeper Stephanie Durette-Medeiros. “Over the past week, Marie has started to show interest in venturing out into the habitat while the cub is napping – she’s typically going out in the morning and then again later in the afternoon. This is usually when we hear some vocalizations from the cub – demanding mom to come back inside!”

“The cub is changing rapidly as well – in addition to growing from the size of a potato to the size of an eggplant– but much fluffier of course! It’s been wriggly since day one, rolling over and flopping around trying to get its feet under itself. We saw it attempt to crawl a few centimeters last week!”

Jacob, BPZOO’s 3 year-old male red panda, has been respectful of Marie and the cub, understanding her body language and giving her space. When they are outside together in their habitat, she is relaxed and comfortable – only “yelling” at him when he approaches her fresh cut bamboo!

BPZOO’s red panda cub was introduced to adoring fans on Facebook Live on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 during a regularly scheduled “Virtual Keeper Chat”. That video can be viewed here.

Jacob and Marie were brought to New Bedford based on a recommendation as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP), which the Buttonwood Park Zoo is actively participating in. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

BPZOO recently became a Partner in Conservation with the Red Panda Network by helping in their campaign to Plant a Red Panda Home in Nepal. Once restored, the critical forest corridor that connects Nepal and India will be part of the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Red Panda Protected Forest in Eastern Nepal: the world’s FIRST protected area dedicated to red panda!

More information about BPZOO’s commitment to conserving endangered species can be found here.

About Red Pandas:
Red pandas, Ailurus fulgens fulgens, live in high-altitude temperate forests of Nepal, northeastern India, Bhutan and part of China. Listed as Endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature, the global red panda population has declined by 50% over the last 20 years. Primarily threatened by habitat loss, red pandas are also susceptible to climate change, poaching, livestock herding and disease. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 and as few as 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild. Currently, there are 240 red pandas at 85 AZA accredited institutions who are working together to save this endangered species.
Primarily bamboo eaters, red pandas need to eat 20-30% of their body weight each day due to the high amount of indigestible fiber present in bamboo. Thanks to the success of the Zoo’s Community Bamboo Program, the red pandas, elephants and others enjoy various species of bamboo harvested from private landowners throughout the community.

Want exclusive access to behind-the-scenes cub updates? Become a Red Panda Pal!