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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

Longleat gorilla Boulas dies

Bolulas the gorilla has died Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Longleat Safari Park has announced that crowd favourite Boulas the gorilla has died

The 27-year-old male Western lowland gorilla Boulas died yesterday. Early indications are that he died of respiratory failure related to an undiagnosed abscess in his throat.

A full post mortem is being carried out.

Longleat’s Director of Animal Operations, Jon Cracknell, said: “This is a tragic loss and a cause for great sadness across the entire safari park.

“Boulas’ keepers in particular have been devastated by the death of an individual they worked and lived with every day.”

Boulas had undergone a standard veterinary procedure to treat a suspected dental abscess. Following recovery he suffered severe respiratory problems and despite the best efforts of the veterinary team, it was not possible to save him.

Boulas arrived at Longleat in 2012 from Twycross Zoo as part of a new state-of-the-art Gorilla Colony.


  1. National

Car 'overheats' forcing family to flee from lion's den

Helen Clements and her children Charlie and George told ITV News that her car had "overheated", causing the family to abandon the vehicle at a lion enclosure at Longleat Safari Park.

Ms Clements said: "What we thought we better do is, because what you are supposed to do is sound your horn, so we did. But my son George thought he better get out the car, so he opened the door, and got out the car. And I just said "George don't get out of the car"".

Lions 150m from cars at Longleat

The spokesman for Longleat Safari Park said that the visitors involved in the incident were believed to be a mother and her son and daughter who were aged around 12 or 13. Visitors said the lions were 150 metres from the people carrier when the incident happened and the car was left "burnt out".

The family remained in the smoking vehicle until the rangers arrived, and the car caught fire when they had left the area. Longleat staff said at no point were the mother and children waiting outside their vehicle.

Cars were cleared from the area following the fire to make way for the fire service, but the park was up and running again shortly after.


Lions put down at Longleat Safari Park

Six lions have been put down at Longleat in Wiltshire.

In a statement the Safari Park said the decision was taken after the animals exhibited "odd aggressive behaviour." They also say a review of the genetic lineage of the lions showed inbreeding amongst their grandparents before coming to Longleat.

At the age of 13 months, at the collection where she was previously held, Louisa exhibited neurological clinical signs which were thought to have been caused by inadequate nutrition leading to hypovitaminosis A.

This was treated at the time but never fully resolved itself and she continued to exhibit clinical signs of head tilt and tremors throughout her life.

Despite suitable nutrition these neurological signs were present in her cubs, which were clearly distinct from other litters in the pride as they all individually exhibited adverse neurological signs such as ataxia, incoordination and odd aggressive behaviour that were not considered normal or appropriate compared to other animals within the collection.

Reviewing the genetic lineage of Louisa and her cubs it was found both Louisa's parents exhibited relatively high levels of inbreeding, prior to arrival, at a grand parentage level and great-grand parentage level.

After considering the pressures in the group, due to the recent increase in

pregnancies, and the developmental disorders present in the cubs it was reluctantly decided that euthanasia was the responsible option for these individuals.

These decisions involve communication with all of our current staff, management team and with independent external ethical reviews undertaken to ensure we are consistent with best practice.

– Longleat Safari Park
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