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Red pandas now classified as endangered

Dave Smart
Zoo News - Posted 3 March 2016

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Sad news from the Red Panda Network this month, as once again, red pandas find themselves one step closer to extinction.

For the second time in the past 20 years, their status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has regressed from “vulnerable” to “endangered”.

Deforestation and habitat fragmentation are the main threats to the survival of the species, and poaching for their beautiful fur is a major problem in China, where the pelts have cultural significance.

This means that red panda breeding programmes in zoos all around the world have become even more important. The red pandas in zoo collections are ambassadors for the species, providing the opportunity to tell visitors their story and what they can do to help.

While the baby-making years are now over for parents Tayla and Chito, Hamilton Zoo’s breeding programme has been enormously successful. Father Chito arrived at Hamilton Zoo from Auckland Zoo in 2006, and mother Tayla came to Hamilton from Canberra in 2010. Since being paired, the two have produced eight offspring, who are now beginning to breed themselves.

• Male Ketu, born in 2011, went to Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, and fathered sons Pumori and Rohan in 2015.
• Males Karma, Nima, and Dawa were born in 2012. Nima and Dawa went to National Zoo in Canberra, and Karma went to Singapore Zoo.
• Females Khusi and Khela were born in 2014. While Khela remains at Hamilton Zoo with her parents, Khusi is now at Wellington Zoo.
• Male Tenzing and female Jamuna were born in January 2015 and remain at Hamilton Zoo for now.

To learn how to help this unique species, visit the Red Panda Network, an organisation committed to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities. 

See red pandas Jamuna and Tenzing at Play, as filmed by their keeper, Ant.

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