NORFOLK — The Virginia Zoo welcomed three red panda cubs to mom, 3-year-old Masu and dad, 4-year-old Timur.
The cubs, two males and one female, were born June 18 off-exhibit at the zoo’s Animal Wellness Campus, zoo officials said.
Red panda cubs weigh approximately 5 ounces at birth, but now weigh in at just more than a pound, officials added.
“Having red panda triplets is a unique situation,” said Colleen Clabbers, the zoo’s veterinarian. “It’s a lot of work for mom to care for three newborns, but Masu is doing a great job caring for the triplets and all three have been thriving.”
Masu gave birth in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she has been nursing and bonding with her cubs in a quiet environment.
The den is off view to the public and is monitored by zoo keepers and animal care staff, officials said.
Masu and the cubs will make their way to the original red panda exhibit off the main pathway later this fall when keepers feel they can confidently navigate the trees and other exhibit features.
“Our Animal Care team had a great strategy last year in moving Masu to the Animal Wellness Campus while she was still pregnant, providing privacy for her first birth experience. She took great care of her cubs last year, which is why we opted to do the same thing again this time around,” said Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo. “We’re excited to introduce Masu and the triplets to the public this fall!”
So what are their names?
The Virginia Zoo is auctioning naming rights of the cubs in support of red panda conservation.
The public can place bids on each of the cubs’ names through Aug. 30. To place yours, click here.
About red pandas
Red pandas are tree-dwelling animals native to the eastern Himalayas, in suitable habitat in Myanmar, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibet and China, zoo officials said.
While they share the same name as giant pandas, the two species are not closely related.
Red pandas are the only living member of their taxonomic family.
Slightly larger than a domestic cat and with markings similar to a raccoon, red pandas have soft, dense reddish-brown and white fur.
They feed mainly on bamboo, but also various plant shoots, leaves, fruit and insects. Red pandas are shy and solitary except when mating or raising offspring.