Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of two red pandas on June 16. The cubs are doing well and bonding with their mother, Mei Mei, in their off exhibit den.
“This is the second red panda birth at Nashville Zoo, and the first litter for first time mom, Mei Mei,” said Jennifer Wu, carnivore keeper. “We were able to track Mei Mei’s pregnancy progress because she allowed keepers to conduct ultrasounds during her regular training sessions. This helped the animal care team estimate a due date and properly plan for the big day.”
Animal care staff added video cameras to Mei Mei’s nest boxes and outdoor area so they would know when she gave birth and could watch for proper care without having to disturb the mother and cubs. The live feed camera is now accessible online offering the public an unobtrusive peek into the red panda den (see below).
Because red pandas are born blind and almost completely immobile, the cubs typically remain in the nest for up to three months. They will open their eyes around one month old but won’t have clear vision until they are a little older. For now, the three-week-old cubs are snug in their nest box with mom and won't start venturing outdoors until they are more mobile and developed, which is typically around four months old.
Known for their cinnamon colored fur and bushy ringed tail, the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the mountains of Central China, Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma). They are considered vulnerable to extinction due to habitat destruction. In addition, slow rates of reproduction and high infant mortality rates make it very hard for this species to rebound from population declines.