National Zoo welcomes 4 litters of red panda cubs


One of the new panda cubs gets extra care to ensure its survival. It may be as big as a cat one day. (Janice Sveda/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute )

The National Zoo’s giant panda cub, Bao Bao, will celebrate her first birthday next month. But the zoo also recently welcomed four litters of red panda cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, according to the zoo.

The institute is where the zoo does a lot of its research on animal care and reproduction. Four pairs of red pandas live there, and all four had babies this year. The 10 cubs born were the most they’ve ever had in one year. Seven have survived, the zoo said.

The latest pair to have cubs was Shama and Rusty. Rusty gained national attention last year after he escaped from his enclosure on Asia Trail at the zoo. Shama gave birth to three cubs June 26, the zoo said.

Red pandas normally live in cool bamboo forests in China, Nepal and Burma (all countries in Asia). There are fewer than 10,000 of them living in the wild. They usually grow to be about the size of a house cat.

— Mari-Jane Williams

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