They were June 27, 2013 to 8-year-old Ta-Shi. The father, 4-year-old Shifu, came to the zoo in 2012 with a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, a cooperative management plan to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species.
“Ta-Shi is an experienced and attentive mom and very protective of her babies,” said Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society curator of mammals. “We’re thrilled to once again add to the captive population of this threatened species.”
Red pandas are found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, Myanmar and central China and are classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to deforestation.
These animals spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep high above the ground. They look for food at night and in the gloaming hours of dusk and dawn. I’d guess you have to get up mighty early or stay up late to see them in the wild.
They have a taste for bamboo, but like their larger relatives, they eat many other foods as well such as fruit, acorns, roots and eggs. Like giant pandas, they have an extended wrist bone that functions almost like a thumb, which really helps them keep a good grip on the trees.
About the size of a house cat, with rust-colored fur and an 18-inch white-ringed tail, red pandas are skilled and agile climbers. They spend most of their time hanging from tree branches or lounging on limbs. That should make the twins great fun to watch when they get older. For now, the yet-to-be-named red panda twins are spending most of their time in a nest box but can be spotted intermittently in their wooded habitat across from the Amur tigers.