Meet the adorable red panda twins born at Longleat

The cubs were born at the end of June. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Rare red panda twins have been born at Longleat.

The Wiltshire safari park says the two males, who were born at the end of June, are developing well and hitting key milestones.

Both their mother Emma and dad Lionel are considered critically important members of the European Endangered Species Programme for the red panda due to their diverse genetics.

It comes less than a year after a pair of cubs, born to the same mother, passed away. Emma stopped feeding them and after days of sub-freezing temperatures the pair died of hypothermia.

The twins are hitting their milestones at the park. Credit: Tom Anders

Keeper Samantha Peeke said: “Every animal birth is always special and exciting, but breeding an endangered species is an incredible thing to be part of.”

“As the cubs grow, they will go onto join the endangered species breeding programme and help ensure the survival of their species.

“Whilst they are young, they spend most of their time inside one of the nest boxes in the enclosure, where Emma feeds and cleans them.”

As they mature, the cubs will start to get braver and explore the outside world.

The twins snuggle up to their mum Emma. Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Keepers check on the cubs throughout the day and monitor Emma closely, adapting her diet and environment as needed. The cubs are also regularly weighed to ensure their continued growth and development.

Six previous cubs having been successfully reared at the park, all of which have gone on to join breeding programmes at other collections across Europe.

The red panda is officially recognised as endangered in the wild, meaning the species faces a high risk of extinction in the near future. Numbers are thought to be as low as 2,500 in the wild. They are endangered due to deforestation and habitat loss as well as poaching and the illegal pet trade.

Red pandas are carnivores, but their natural diet consists mostly of bamboo, each red panda can eat 20,000 bamboo leaves a day in the wild. Longleat has its own bamboo plantation to provide a regular supply of fresh bamboo leaves, replicating their wild diet as closely as possible.

Due to bamboo being low in energy red pandas can spend a large amount of their day sleeping to conserve energy and can often be seen snoozing in the trees of their enclosure.