A pair of new baby red pandas was born this summer at Atascadero’s Charles Paddock Zoo.
The female cubs were born June 26, but “have been kept under wraps until zoo staff could be more comfortable with their safety and survival,” a city news release said.
The births follow the deaths of two male cubs from the same parents earlier this year.
Those cubs died several months apart from what tests determined were seemingly different ailments.
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The first died in March from what appeared to be a viral distemper infection, although those conclusions were not concrete. Its brother’s necropsy was inconclusive but indicated the death could have been related to an apparent genetic abnormality that seemed to have stunted his growth.
Overall, zoo staff says it’s not that unusual for first-time mothers among wild animals to lose their babies.
Going forward, the new cubs are “now reaching a critical milestone as they start weaning from their mom and begin eating solid food,” according to the zoo.
Zoo staff said they will continue to monitor the cubs’ weights to make sure they are transitioning well.
The public may be able to get a peek at the babies in the coming days because zoo officials say they expect the animals to start venturing out of their nest box soon.
Their father, a 5-year-old male named Ruskan, is the only one visible at the exhibit now. The mother, a 3-year-old named Damini, and her cubs are currently snuggled out of sight in the back of a nesting box.
The new panda babies, who don’t have names yet, will stay at the Charles Paddock Zoo for approximately a year before participating in a breeding program designed to keep the species from extinction.
Red pandas are raccoon-sized mammals with red fur and bushy tails from the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China, where their populations have been in decline. They typically live 13 to 14 years.