An endangered red panda cub has been born at Longleat – the fourth successful birth in the last three years. The birth of the male cub, which has been named Turner, is particularly welcome as parents Rufina and Ajendra are considered critically important to the ongoing success of captive breeding programmes for red pandas worldwide.
Dad Ajendra, which means ‘King of the Mountain’, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012, and mum Rufina, meaning ‘red-haired’, arrived from Italy just over a year later, following an appeal by keepers.
Keeper Samantha Allworthy said: “At first we thought Rufina could be having twins again as she was so heavy; however it turned out she just had one very large, healthy baby! They are both such fantastic parents that we pretty much leave them to it and try to interfere as little as possible. We have been able to weigh Turner and confirm that he is a little boy and he is doing really well.”
Like their famous namesakes the giant pandas, red pandas are increasingly endangered in the wild.
The species was officially designated as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 when the global population was estimated at about 10,000 individuals. Found in Nepal, Bhutan and China, they live among bamboo forests and spend much of their time in trees.