Twin Red Panda cubs at Woodland Park Zoo have reached another milestone: stepping outside of their den and exploring their bedroom! The sisters, named Zeya (ZAY-uh) and Ila (EE-la), were born June 19 to mom Hazel and dad Yukiko and are the first successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo in 29 years.
ZooBorns previously shared photos of the cubs’ neonatal exam and the announcement of their names.
The 2½-month-old cubs, which currently weigh 4 pounds each, and Hazel have been living off public view in an indoor, climate-controlled space where the first-time mom can nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment. A camera in the den has allowed animal care staff to monitor the family to ensure the cubs are thriving and mom is providing appropriate care; human contact has been minimal except for neonatal exams as part of the zoo’s exemplary animal welfare program.
During quick wellness checks on the new family, the animal keepers caught the first sightings of the cubs venturing outside of the den and exploring the bedroom. “This is very exciting to see our cubs beginning to explore outside of their den. We can’t confirm how much time they’re spending in the bedroom, but we suspect they’re most active outside the den during nighttime,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “This indicates they’re meeting important milestones in their development by increasing their mobility skills, curiosity and navigation within their surroundings. These skills will serve them well when they are introduced to the outdoor exhibit.”
The zoo anticipates putting Hazel, Zeya and Ila in the outdoor public exhibit by mid-October/November. Guests visiting the zoo can see the zoo’s other Red Panda, a 4-year-old male named Carson, in the Wildlife Survival Zone
Red Pandas share the name of Giant Pandas, but more closely resemble Raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An Endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations.