Blackpool zoo is celebrating the birth of not one, but two endangered red panda cubs.
The adorable new additions, are the first to be born at the zoo for more than a decade, and with only 10,000 red pandas left in the wild, these cubs are cause for extra celebration.
Keepers were overjoyed to find the two adorable additions nestled together shortly after their birth on Friday 18th June and have left mum, Alina, and dad, Tao Tao to care for their young naturally.
After their first health checks it has been confirmed that the duo are a boy and a girl.
First time mum Alina, who is two years old arrived at Blackpool Zoo during the first national lockdown and settled in very well with eight-year-old Tao Tao.
Red Pandas breed in spring and summer and cubs are born following a three-month gestation period.
Luke Forster, Section Head of Birds, reptiles and Small Mammals at Blackpool Zoo, was delighted when he first saw the babies. He said: “It is wonderful to see Alina and Tao Tao become parents for the first time together.
“The timing also couldn't have been better, with Saturday 18th September being International Red Panda Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of this species in the wild.
“They are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, with numbers still declining due to the loss of habitat from deforestation and the expansion of agriculture in their native Asian forests.
“These two tiny additions are a fantastic way to end what has been a great summer season here at Blackpool Zoo and we look forward to seeing them out and about in the coming months.”
Red pandas are native to the Eastern Himalayas and spend most of their lives in trees, including when sleeping. They are mostly nocturnal but they also forage for food at dusk and dawn.
The red panda had been previously classified in the families Procyonidae (raccoons) and Ursidae (bears), however recent research has placed it in its own family Ailuridae.
Often associated with the giant panda, they are smaller than people might expect – only the size of a typical house cat, with a long, bushy tail that adds up to 18 inches to their length.
To celebrate the birth, and to mark International Red Panda Day on Saturday 18th September, Blackpool Zoo is holding a competition on its social media pages to name the new babies and the two winners will each receive a pair of tickets to Blackpool Zoo.