Three weeks ago the Woodland Park Zoo welcomed two adorable, fluffy red pandas into the world.
The twin female cubs are healthy and thriving after their second neonatal exam this week.
Born to 2-year-old first-time mom Hazel and 14-year-old dad Yukiko, the cubs are the first to be born at the zoo since 1989.
When they were born, the cubs weighed just a mere 5 ounces each, but now they weigh in at just over a pound.
“We’re pleased with this weight gain, which means both cubs continue to nurse and have healthy appetites. Their eyes are not open yet but they are quite vocal as cubs should be,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health.
Hazel and her cubs are currently living in an indoor climate-controlled den where she is able to nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment. The dad, Yukiko, remains in the zoo's exhibit, separated from the cubs since red pandas are largely solitary.
In addition to Yukiko, zoo-goers are also able to visit Woodland's other red panda, a 4-year-old male named Carson who is also in the Wildlife Survival Zone exhibit.
“We continue to monitor mom and cubs via a den cam to ensure they are thriving and we have minimal physical contact with the family,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The cubs are crawling and are capable of rolling over to upright positions."
Woodland estimates that guests will be able to view Hazel and her yet-to-be-named cubs in mid-October.
"Timing will depend on their ability to safely navigate elevated branches, trees and other exhibit features. Because red pandas live in high-altitude temperate forests with bamboo understories in the Himalayas and high mountains, they are very comfortable in the coldest of conditions throughout the winter,” explained Myers.
Later this summer the public will be invited to help name the twin cubs.
While red pandas share a name with the giant panda, they are actually more related to and resemble raccoons, skunks, and weasels. They dwell in the bamboo forests of China, the Himalayas, and Myanmar.
Red pandas are an endangered species with fewer than 10,000 remaining in their native bamboo habitat. A decline in their species is due to deforestation, cattle grazing, and pressure from growing populations in the area.
The Woodland Park Zoo supports red panda conservation by partnering with the Red Panda Network. Summer zoo hours through September 30 are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.