AFTER months of waiting, two rare red panda cubs have finally emerged from their den at Cotswold Wildlife Park.
The twins, which are yet to be named, surprised keepers when they were born in June because keepers did not know their mother was pregnant.
The cubs, which are the children of first time parents Doodoo and Scarlet, are the first red pandas to be born at the park in 10 years.
Curator Jamie Craig said: “The park has had an excellent record of breeding this species in the past.
“It says something about our history with red pandas that the breeding male we have now is the grandson of one of our original animals.
“Our new pair look set to be every bit as successful as previous pandas at the park and will play an important role in the breeding programme.”
Red pandas, which first came to the park in 1972, only have a small window of opportunity for breeding every couple of years when the female is receptive.
As they are incredibly shy and secretive animals, keepers did not observe any mating between the adult pandas and Scarlet’s thick fur hid any tale-tale signs that she was about to give birth.
After they were born on June 24, the cubs spent three months secluded in their nest-box. The red panda is classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which means it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
They are listed as number 19 in the most globally threatened species by the Edge Of Existence Programme. Due to habitat loss and fur hunting, it is believed less than 2,500 red pandas remain in the wild.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, near Burford, is committed to a European Breeding Programme to protect the species.
The cubs will stick closely to their mother until the next breeding season. Cotswold Wildlife Park, a popular attraction with Swindon families, is open from 10am.
For more information visit www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk.