Everyone loves a newborn - and twins are even better. Two baby red pandas have now been introduced to the world, after six-year-old mum Tashi coaxed the little ones out their nest boxes for the first time. The adorable set of twins, christened Bert and Ernie by the zookeepers after the much-loved Sesame Street characters, are the fourth and fifth cubs born to Tashi and were born on June 30th.
“It’s been magical to see the baby red pandas out and about for the first time," said Stephan Perry, Senior Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
“Red pandas can be difficult to observe due to their shy and secretive nature, their nocturnal habits and the fact that they spend most of their time up trees. We never see much of their babies for the first couple of months of their lives but it’s worth the wait. They’re incredible and beautiful creatures, and a real visitor favourite.
“Tashi is a brilliant mum, and when the weather gets warmer you sometimes catch her carrying the babies between nesting boxes to find the coolest one for them.”
“Having such a confident mum there is great because it means we can just leave them to it and not interfere. We just check in on Tashi, the boys and their dad Blue once a day to make sure everything’s okay.”
IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species classifies red pandas as Vulnerable, so sadley the species is on the decline. Their numbers have dramatically decreased by forty percent in 50 years due to habitat loss, increased human activity and poaching. The cubs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme, (EEP) which manages conservation breeding all across Europe. The EEP studbook holder plays matchmaker with animals, taking into account birthplace and parentage to produce healthy babies, just like Bert and Ernie.
For more cute animal photos, pick up the latest issue of Yours