3 red pandas born in June doing fine, one more expected

The Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok has recently had three births of red pandas as a part of the zoo's conservation breeding programme, officials told The Hindu on Wednesday.

“We had three cubs born and are expecting another birth in the coming weeks,” Gut Lepcha, the additional director of the Himalayan Zoological Park said over telephone from Gangtok.

Doing fine

The first cub was born on June 3, and the other two on June 20. All three of them are doing fine, Mr. Lepcha added.

This has been the most successful breeding season in the zoo's decade long programme.

Usually the zoo would have a pair of cubs born to one female in a season.

But this year two female red pandas have already given birth and a third one is expecting.

The conservation breeding programme for red pandas – the State animal of Sikkim – was initiated in 1997, when a female red panda was brought in from a zoo in Rotterdam in Holland and a male from the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling.

After its first breeding success in 1999, the programme suffered a setback when the female from the zoo's parent stock died.

The rescue of a red panda from the wild in 2005 gave a boost to the programme. So far, 14 cubs have been born at the zoo, Mr. Lepcha said.

Specific infrastructure

Zoo authorities have now brought in specific infrastructure for the programme including separate enclosures for breeding.

Home to several mammals and birds indigenous to the Himalayan region including snow leopards, Tibetan wolves, Himalayan black bears and several species of pheasants, the Central Zoo Authority has sanctioned the conservation breeding programme for the red pandas and the blood pheasant, the official bird of the State.