Welcoming its newest member with open arms! The Sacramento Zoo announced the birth of an endangered red panda cub in a sweet Facebook post on Thursday, June 28, and revealed the heartbreaking reason the baby will be hand-raised by zoo staff.
“It’s a girl! Join us in welcoming the birth of an endangered red panda cub at the Sacramento Zoo! Born Monday, the cub and mother were closely monitored by veterinary and zookeeper staff around the clock,” the photo of the newborn was captioned.
The post continued: “Staff noticed signs that mother, Pili, was exhibiting neglectful maternal behaviors, including leaving the cub unattended in the outside area of her den,” noting that “after roughly 24 hours of observation, the decision was made to intervene and hand raise the cub, giving her cub the best opportunity to thrive.”
As for how red pandas are normally cared for, the zoo says that allowing the “mother to attentively care for her cub is optimal in most cases, ” however “when factors including maternal neglect are observed, it is important for animal care staff to intervene.”
They added that the cub is being closely monitored and is in good hands, being cared for “on-grounds in the ICU area of the zoo’s Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital.”
And the little one can eat! “The cub is being fed every three hours, around the clock,” the post read. “Veterinary staff are hand-feeding formula with a lactase supplement as red pandas are lactose intolerant.”
Some lucky zoo-goers may even catch a glimpse of one of the little one’s meals. “These feedings will continue every three hours and sometimes can be publicly viewed at the window of the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital,” the zoo added.
The blog post concluded with a note regarding a foundation close to the zoo’s heart: “The Sacramento Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, an organization committed to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities. Support of conservation organizations is increasingly important for this at-risk species whose habitat is threatened due to deforestation through logging and the spread of agriculture. The Sacramento Zoo has been an active participant in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan® since 1999.”