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Panda born after lonely heart advert

Rare red panda cub Credit: Longleat

A rare red panda cub has been born at Longleat after keepers launched an international lonely hearts ad to find a mate for their male.

It’s the first time the famous Wiltshire safari park has successfully bred red pandas.

Dad Ajenda, which means ‘King of the Mountain’, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012 and mum Rufina, meaning ‘red-haired’, arrived from Italy just over a year later, following an appeal by keepers.

Baby panda with mum Rufina Credit: Longleat

The birth is particularly welcome as this particular pairing is deemed to be critical to the ongoing success of European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda.

Like their famous, but unrelated, namesakes the giant pandas, red pandas are increasingly endangered in the wild.

The species was officially designated as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 when the global population was estimated at about 10,000 individuals.

As yet unnamed boy panda Credit: Longleat

Like giant pandas about two-thirds of their food intake is made up of bamboo. Bamboo is not the most nutritious of foods so they have to eat a lot of it to survive.

As it is relatively low in calories, red pandas tend to spend much of their time either eating or sleeping.

As well as plain bamboo keepers supplement their diet with a mix of fruits, eggs and the occasional insects. They also make a special type of bamboo cake which the pandas are especially fond of.

A red panda was featured as Master Shifu, the Kung Fu teacher, in the 2008 film Kung Fu Panda and its 2011 sequel Kung Fu Panda 2.

We’re delighted with how well Rufina is looking after the young cub and both mother and baby are doing brilliantly.

Cubs don’t tend to start venturing out on their own for the first three months and Rufina, like all red panda mums, regularly moves the cub to different nesting areas.

This is perfectly natural behaviour but makes keeping track of the baby, or even confirming what sex it is, somewhat problematic for us!

– Robert Curtis, keeper

Missed the Balloon Fiesta? See 360 degrees of Bristol from the sky

Never been up in a balloon? See 360 degrees of Bristol from the sky with one click. Credit: FundamentalVR

Even with the Balloon Fiesta just gone, Bristol's ballooning craze is still going strong.

The balloon fans who missed out this year (and those who just want to see their city from the sky) can get a 360-degree balloon view with this stunning video by FundamentalVR.


Bristol mayor says things will change after Balloon Fiesta traffic gridlock

Thousands had to be turned away from the popular yearly event. Credit: Aaron Sims

The Mayor of Bristol has told ITV News he's investigating how to improve access to the city's annual Balloon Fiesta, after thousands had to be turned away on Saturday night.

Spectators travelling by car faced miles of queues and long delays getting onto the site at Ashton Court. In the end organisers told people to stay away for the first time in the event's 37-year history.

Many stuck in traffic vented their frustrations on social media.

Was the popular free event a victim of its own success this year? Victoria Davies' report has the full story.

Was the Bristol Balloon Fiesta a victim of its own success?

Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2015 Credit: Mark Woolacott

Organisers of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta say the last four days have been some of the most successful in the event's history - but was it a victim of its own success?

For the first time ever, the site was closed and spectators turned away on Saturday night because it was so full - with traffic problems for many of those trying to get in.

At the event itself, mass balloon ascents and night glows attracted more than half a million people.

Ben Hardy, Operations Director of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, hopes the event will be bigger and better next year.

How would you rate the balloon fiesta? Email us

Weatherman Alex heads into the skies in a Minion

It has been perfect weather for the 37th Balloon fiesta. The mass ascent took place early this morning in bright sunshine with around 100 balloons taking to the skies around the city.

Today was the first full day of the Bristol International Balloon fiesta. Our weatherman Alex Beresford was lucky enough to go up in one of the hundred or so balloons taking part in this morning's mass ascent - none other than Stuart the Minion.

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is Europe's biggest hot air balloon festival and over half a million visitors are expected to descend upon the Ashton Court Estate this weekend. There are seven mass ascents in total as well as the famous Night Glow, which took place last night and will also be held tomorrow night as well.

We've put together a montage of what's happened so far:


Glowing pictures of last night's Balloon Fiesta opening

Bristol balloon fiesta opened in style last night. Credit: Aaron Sims
Thousands of people went to Ashton Court to watch the spectacle. Credit: Aaron Sims
40 hot air balloons were lit up in time to music. Credit: Aaron Sims

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We want to see your Bristol Balloon Fiesta pictures!

Some of the ITV News West Country team have been out and about taking pictures at this year's Balloon Fiesta:

Kylie heads to the Balloon Fiesta (and takes a few selfies along the way)

Up, up and away! Stunning aerial pictures of Bristol

But we want to see your pictures and selfies in our online gallery as well!

Tweet us: @itvwestcountry

Post them on our Facebook page

E-mail them to:

Some of the ITV West Country team pause for a selfie at Night glow. Credit: ITV West Country / Sarah Norman
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