Wellington Zoo staff are finally set to find out the sex of their red panda cub - three months after its birth.

The cub was caught on camera this week emerging from its nest box for the first time, something which has keepers and zoo visitors excited.

Animal care manager Jo Richardson said now the 12-week-old cub is beginning to venture out of the nest, it is a suitable time for keepers to do a general health check on it and find out its sex.

"We're very hands-off with this species when they give birth because the cub will stay in the nest for the first 12 weeks," she said.

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#RedPandaUpdate! We hope you're keeping dry today... β˜”οΈ Here's a wee pick-me-up to brighten your afternoon - our Red Panda cub had the hiccups and it may just be the cutest thing you'll see! πŸ€— The cub has recently turned 6 weeks old and it now has fur on the pads of its feet - just like the adults. We work with Red Panda Network to help save this endangered species through the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund. πŸŽ₯: Keeper Dani

Posted by Wellington Zoo on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Keepers wanted to make sure there was minimal disturbance as the mother and cub used the time to bond, which was especially important for the first-time mother.

"We're also very hands-off to ensure successful rearing of the cub to the mother. We do visual checks once to twice a day."

The 12 week mark was a good time to finally do a quick health check on the cub and weigh and sex it because that was the natural time for it to come out of the nest and begin to explore its habitat.

Once the cub has been sexed, the Red Panda Network in Nepal, which is one of the zoo's conservation partners, will name it.

As the cub gets older, it will continue to venture more around the habitat under its mother's watchful eye.

"She will let the cub do what it needs to do ... if the cub is unsure at any point the mother red panda will go down to reassure it and take it back to the nest."

Unsure Red Panda Cub

#KeeperCam! I spy a Red Panda cub emerging from the nest!!! πŸ˜πŸ™ˆ Our den cam snapped our gorgeous wee Red Panda cub attempting to leave the nest for the first time. The cub is still a bit uncertain as you can see, but hopefully we will start to see more appearances from the baby soon! Red Pandas are more active in the evenings, so why not plan a visit to the Zoo this Friday as we are open late until 8pm, with kids entry half price after 5pm: http://bit.ly/2FO1mLh ⭐ Once we know the sex of the cub, we will be asking our conservation partner, Red Panda Network to give it a fitting name! Stay tuned...

Posted by Wellington Zoo on Monday, 12 March 2018

Next the mother will start teaching her cub how to climb trees.

Richardson said red pandas were "incredible animals".

Evolved to survive in the Himalayas and similar climates, their thick, red fur keeps them warm and repels the rain.

While they may look more like raccoons, they share a name with Giant Pandas because of their diet.

"The word 'panda' actually means 'eats bamboo'. Their main diet in the wild is bamboo."

Red pandas, which are endangered, are solitary animals and only come together for breeding. A decision has not been made yet as to what will happen to the cub when it is old enough to leave its mother.

Wellington Zoo is part of an international breeding programme in which its animals may be sent to other zoos and vice versa.

Keepers expect to find out the sex of the cub tomorrow.