Perth Zoo’s twin Nepalese Red Panda cubs have been given a clean bill of health following their first veterinary check.  

The rare cubs were born on December 2nd last year to first time mum, Maiya and dad, Sombaar.

Perth Zoo Senior Keeper Karen Rotherham said: "Today our veterinarians gave our furry new arrivals a quick check of their body condition, eyes, teeth, ears and weight.”

“We are delighted to learn that we have a healthy male and female.” 

The cubs spend the first few months of life tucked up in their nest box with mum nearby, so the veterinary check took place at the Asian Rainforest exhibit to ensure minimal interference.

“Maiya is an attentive mum and luckily she has been comfortable allowing the keepers to check in on the cubs too,” Karen said.

“Red Pandas are endangered in the wild, so the birth of these twins was a very important achievement for the coordinated breeding program.”

The panda parents were introduced at Perth Zoo in late 2018 when two-year-old Maiya arrived from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and six-year-old male Sombaar came from the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra.

Nepalese Red Pandas are found across the Himalayan Mountain and foothills of India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. Deforestation and illegal poaching continue to be significant threats to remaining populations. Less than 10,000 are estimated to remain in the wild.

“Their fragmented habitats mean that a lot of breeding opportunities in the wild are missed so the Zoo breeding program is vital to ensure we have an insurance population,” Karen said.

“Perth Zoo has had significant breeding success with 21 Red Pandas born at the Zoo since 1997.”

Red Pandas are a unique species not directly related to the Giant Panda. They are covered almost completely in fur, including the underside of their paws.

“We can’t wait for visitors to meet our new cubs, but they won’t start emerging from their nest box until Autumn,” Karen said.

“We have been keeping them cool throughout the summer season by insulating their nest box with ice packs.” 

Thanks to the generosity of the public, Perth Zoo is able to support vital field work to save wildlife, including the Red Panda Network who train local ‘Forest Guardians’ to protect this species in its wild habitat.