The Greenville Zoo is celebrating the birth of a male red panda. Born on Sunday, June 21, the offspring is the first for parents Collette, 3 years old, and Firecracker, 9 years old, and marks the first birth of the species for the zoo since 2006.
According to Greenville Zoo Director Jeff Bullock, the family is doing well and will continue to be closely monitored. “As a first time mom, Collette is doing a great job,” said Bullock. “While it may be a few months before zoo guests see the baby regularly on exhibit, they may catch a glimpse of Collette moving him from one den to another.”
Collette was brought to the Greenville Zoo from the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, S.D. in 2013 as part of a breeding recommendation by the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP). Firecracker was born at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Ill, and came to the Greenville Zoo in 2009. The zoo works directly with the SSP who make recommendations and develop long-term research and management strategies for the species. Red pandas breed and mature slowly, which along with their shrinking environment due to logging and the spread of agriculture, makes them vulnerable to extinction.
The birth of the male cub marks the 16th red panda cub born at the Greenville Zoo. The zoo has been exhibiting red pandas since 1988. As part of the SSP, the Greenville Zoo is committed to ensuring the long term success of the species.
The red panda is native to the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China. Dwarfed by the black-and-white giant that shares their name, red pandas typically grow to the size of a house cat. They spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep aloft. Red pandas tend to be shy and solitary animals. They enjoy bamboo, but unlike their larger relatives, eat other foods such as fruit, acorns, roots and eggs.