Endangered red panda cubs born at Paignton Zoo

Red pandas are on the IUCN Red List and are classed as endangered. Credit: Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo has welcomed the arrival of two Red Panda cubs.

First-time mum Ember gave birth to the two cubs in June but they have not been let into the main enclosure yet.

A spokesperson for Paignton Zoo said: "The cubs are still very young and dependent on Ember, and the family are spending a lot of time together in their nest box at the moment.

"They will remain in the nest box until almost fully grown, at which point you will be able to see them out and about by mum's side.

"The area around the red panda is taped off to give Ember the space she needs to get used to being a new mum."

When red panda cubs are born, their fur is completely white, and as they grow it begins to darken to an unmistakable fiery red colour.

Red pandas are incredible climbers, being very at home in the trees. They have partially retractable claws and an extended wrist bone that acts like a thumb.

They also have adaptations to help survive in their cold native climate – the bottoms of their feet have thick, woolly fur and their ringed, bushy tail is used to keep them warm when sleeping.

Like their distant black and white cousins, adult red pandas mostly eat bamboo shoots, but can also tuck in to grubs, berries and small eggs.

They are found in the wild in deciduous and coniferous forests of the eastern Himalayan mountains and southwestern China.

Red pandas are on the IUCN Red List and are classed as endangered as there are thought to be no more than 10,000 mature red pandas remaining in the world.

Their numbers are declining due to poaching for fur and pet trades, competition from domestic livestock and loss and fragmentation of habitat through deforestation.