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Tennessee zoo welcomes red panda cubs

July 6, 2010 at 4:34 PM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 6 (UPI) -- Officials at a Tennessee zoo said a pair of red panda cubs born June 14 will go on display at the facility within the next few weeks.

Knoxville Zoo officials said the female cubs, born to mother Akkali and father Chewbacca, are being hand fed by zookeepers because of concerns that the mother was grooming them too much, which can lead to skin abrasions, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Zookeepers said the cubs should be able to join their parents in the Boyd Family Red Panda Village within the next few weeks.

"We're guardedly optimistic that these cubs will continue to thrive. The first month is the most crucial," said Sarah Glass, the zoo's red panda curator and coordinator for the North American red panda Species Survival Plan.

"These two female cubs will be extremely important due to the fact that their bloodline is not currently well represented, and they will add new genetic diversity to the captive red panda population," Glass said.

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