FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo announced the birth of a red panda to female Xiao and male Junjie Thursday.
The zoo has had three cubs born to Xia in the last two years, but sadly none of these cubs have survived longer than two weeks.
Red pandas are an endangered species and difficult to breed and raise in zoos. According to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, about half of all cubs die within 30 days of birth. Only a few dozen red panda cubs are born in United States zoos each year.
“We are monitoring the cub and are cautiously optimistic at this point,” Shelley Scherer, Area Manager said. “But there are still many challenges ahead for this little cub.”
An extensive protocol is in place to monitor the cub while minimizing stress on the mother. Keepers allowed Xiao and her cub complete privacy for the first day, because data shows that cubs have a better chance of survival if they are left alone with the mother for the first 24 hours.
“We always prefer that animals raise their own young, but we are prepared to do all we can to ensure the survival of the cub,” Mark Weldon Animal Curator said.“However, hand-rearing provides no guarantee that the cub will survive.”Weldon noted that hand-reared cubs have a 50-50 chance of survival.
“If the cub survives, zoo guests are unlikely to see it outside of the nest box until sometime in August or September,” said Scherer.