Rare red panda born in New Zealand

Jan. 21, 2013 at 3:59 PM
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A red panda, one of Asia's most at-risk species, has been born in New Zealand as part of an international breeding program, officials at the Auckland Zoo said.

The rare Nepalese red panda, whose sex is yet to be determined, weighed just 3.7 ounces when it was born but has since more than doubled its weight to about 8.5 ounces, they said.

The panda cub is the first offspring of 3-year-old female Bo, who arrived at Auckland Zoo in mid-2012, and 12-year-old Sagar, China's Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

"This birth is a fantastic result, especially as Bo was only introduced to Sagar last August, and given female red pandas come into season just twice a year and a male has only a one to two-day window to mate a female," keeper Bruce Murdock said.

"We couldn't ask for a better mum in Bo. She's doing an exceptional job, staying in the nest box for long periods and feeding her cub up to six times a day, and being very attentive."

Red pandas develop slowly and are dependent on their mothers for at least three months, so it would be a while before zoo visitors can see the cub venture out of its nest box and around the enclosure, Murdock said.

"Around late February will be a safe time for us to do a full vet check on the cub," he said. "We're not absolutely sure, but bets are on that we have a female."

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