Nepalese pandas are triple treat for zoo

The birth of three rare and yet-to-be-named Nepalese pandas has thrilled keepers at Hamilton Zoo.

The birth of the triplets, just before Christmas, has doubled the number of red pandas at the zoo.

Now seven weeks old, the three cubs are doing well and mother Tayla is doing an exceptional job.

For zoo curator Sam Kudeweh, the birth of the triplets was great news but seeing them progress is better.

"Red panda cubs are slow to develop so the first months are crucial. We have been undertaking regular weigh ins with the cubs so we can keep an eye on their progress - but need to balance this with a hands off approach as much as possible so we can leave mum Tayla to look after her cubs."

The cubs are currently in the den with their mother, where they are expected to spend up to around three months before venturing out to the public space.

Ms Kudeweh says Red pandas are one of the few species with a global captive breeding programme, which Hamilton Zoo is proud to be part of. "We are really pleased to be able to contribute to the survival of the species."

Looking more like a racoon than a giant panda, the red panda has striking chestnut fur, bellies and limbs are black, a bushy, striped tail and a white face. They are a lot smaller than giant pandas, only reaching 5060cm in body length and weighing 35kg.

Red pandas are found throughout the Himalayan ranges, in Western China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and India. They live in the same habitat as the giant panda, with both species having evolved to almost exclusively eat bamboo leaves and occasionally fruit, small animals, eggs and roots.

- Hamilton News

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