Since making their debut in the Giant Panda House, Pili and Damini have delighted visitors with their playfulness. They have mastered the climbing structure in their enclosure and will transition to the outdoor red panda exhibit soon. Once they're on exhibit outside, in addition to ground-level viewing, visitors will be able to watch the cubs maneuver through the trees with ease from the observation overlook. The cubs’ father, Tate, currently occupies this exhibit. Visitors can try to spot the differences between Pili and Damini (hint: the rings around Pili’s eyes form a complete circle).
The four female red panda cubs born in June are all doing well. The two at the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, are starting to eat more on their own and are not nursing from mom as much. Gaila now weighs more than 3.3 pounds. When her keepers get close, she gives them a “huff-quack” warning, which is intended to be threatening but is just plain cute. Her red coloring is lighter in the face and body than her sister's. Russ weighs about three pounds and is often out of the nest boxes more than Gaila when the keepers are in the enclosure to feed them. Russ follows her mom around, but is venturing away a little more and often comes to investigate the keepers' shoes or other items they bring in.
The two red panda cubs at the Zoo are starting to show interest in food—they've sniffed leaf-eater biscuits and fruits, and they've mouthed bamboo—but aren't quite eating solids yet. Damini weighed in at 3.5 pounds on September 28, and Pili weighed in at 2.9 pounds. They spent the rest of the day napping on the mountain structure in the indoor exhibit adjacent to their den—a first for the cubs. We hope visitors to the giant panda house, where the cubs and their mother are living temporarily, and web cam viewers enjoy seeing them.
Shama's cubs at Asia Trail received a clean bill of health during their first veterinary exam today. They appear to be very healthy, strong, active, and have good vocalizations. One of the Zoo's veterinarians performed a complete physical exam and administered their first set of vaccines. She confirmed both cubs are female and are gaining weight steadily; one weighed 374 grams (13 ounces), and the other weighed 460 grams (16 ounces).
These cubs, which do not yet have names, are the first surviving offspring of three-year-old mother Shama and four-year-old father Tate. More than 100 cubs have been born at the Zoo’s Front Royal and D.C. campuses since 1962. Zoo visitors will be able to see the cubs and their parents at the Asia Trail exhibit this fall.
Shama, the female red panda at the Zoo’s Asia Trail, gave birth to two cubs in her den on June 17. Keepers suspected that she was caring for offspring when she did not respond to their call that morning. A slight squeal was the first indication of a cub. Zoo staff left the mother alone to bond with and care for the cubs in their den. On the seventh day keepers conducted a quick cub check and, with a one-minute window of opportunity, were able to confirm two cubs in the nest box.
On June 5, red panda Low Mei gave birth to two cubs at the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Keepers have confirmed both cubs are female and have opened their eyes.
Staff are taking precautions to not interfere with the cubs during this critical time. As the opportunity presents itself, they enter the den areas to weigh the cubs and assess their health. Keepers wear a second set of cloth gloves over their standard rubber gloves, which have been rubbed with nesting material and scented with the mother’s feces to cover human scents. All four newborns are steadily gaining weight and appear healthy.
The outdoor red panda exhibit is currently closed for renovations. As the cubs grow stronger, the keepers and Friends of the National Zoo volunteers will watch for Shama to allow her cubs to venture out of the den in early fall. At that point, staff will evaluate when the exhibit can be reopened for public viewing. The red pandas in Front Royal have a brand new facility that includes nine outdoor enclosures equipped with numerous insulated dens. More than 100 surviving cubs have been born at the Zoo's Front Royal and D.C. campuses since 1962.