UTICA — The Utica Zoo has welcomed a pair of newborn two red panda cubs. The cubs were born in the early morning hours of July 6 to mother Ming Yue and father Muse. The cubs weighed approximately 100 grams — about a quarter of a pound — at birth, which is about equal to the weight of a stick of butter.
The zoo’s red pandas were recommended to breed as part of the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This is the second group of cubs the adult red pandas has had; the first were born in July 2015.
Red pandas are classified as endangered with population numbers currently unknown due to severe fracturing of their natural habitats. Red Pandas are the only species of their kind and live in the mixed deciduous-conifer forests of the Himalayas and the major mountain ranges of southwestern China.
Red Pandas typically have one to three offspring and mothers spend nearly all their time in their nest area during the first several weeks after birth. Cubs are born with their eyes closed and have no defenses.
The first 30 days of life are a critical time because that is when most problems can occur; both in the wild and at zoos. Ming Yue gave birth to three cubs, but unfortunately, the third cub failed to thrive and did not survive, which is very common in the wild and in conservation care.
The new cubs at the Utica Zoo will not be on view to the public until late fall to allow Ming Yue the privacy needed to care for them. Care for red panda cubs is much different from other species and requires a much greater amount of animal care involvement. The Utica Zoo continues to work closely with the SSP, in order to have a successful breeding program and reverse the current population trend.
The Utica Zoo’s Red Panda Encounters have attracted visitors from all over the country, the United Kingdom, and parts of Canada, creating a tourism boost for the Greater Mohawk Valley, according to zoo officials. Additionally, the contributions from the Utica Zoo to the conservation of red pandas has been immense over the years, especially now as they are classified as endangered animals.
With the arrival of the new red panda cubs, the Utica Zoo is also officially announcing the launch of the International Red Panda Exhibit fundraising campaign.
The new, open air exhibit space will offer four-season viewing, multi-zone climate control, additional new visitor amenities, and will also bring the second sub-species of red panda to the Utica Zoo. The launch of the new campaign comes on the heels of The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties providing a lead gift of $70,000 to build the new red panda exhibit. This gift will account for approximately 10% of the total funds needed for the new exhibit space to be built in the Asian Realm.
People can donate to the exhibit funding by visiting uticazoo.org/donate.
To stay up to date on all things Utica Zoo, visit UticaZoo.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @UticaZoo.
To become a donor, corporate partner, or to inquire about naming rights, please contact Utica Zoo’s Marketing Coordinator Mark Simon at 315-738-0472, ext. 49. .