Public invited to name endangered red panda born at zoo

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A central New York zoo announced the birth of an endangered red panda at its property and said that it would be inviting input from the public to name the animal.

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The Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced the baby’s arrival in a news release Thursday. The female cub was born on July 31 to Simone, 7, and Ketu, 10. The zoo said this was Simone’s first successful birth since joining Ketu in 2018.

“Red panda cubs are highly vulnerable, and the animal care staff followed a strict hands-off policy while Simone cared for and bonded with her baby,” said zoo director Ted Fox. “However, the team closely monitored the cub and her development through cameras installed in the nest box.”

Zoo officials described Simone as a “caring” mother, saying that she did not leave the building for two months as she cared for her new cub.

The baby had its first health check in September, where animal care staff confirmed the cub was an “extremely healthy” female weighing approximately 19 ounces.

The zoo is inviting the public to help name the baby through an online voting process, WSYR reported.

Red pandas are native to high-altitude, temperate forests in the Himalayas and other Indian and Asian mountain ranges, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Researchers estimate the total population of red pandas has declined by 40% over the last 20 years.

There are currently fewer than 5,000 red pandas estimated alive in the wild, according to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

The zoo said in its news release that the new cub would stay at the property for at least a year, but will eventually move to another zoo to participate in a breeding program aiming to manage the endangered species.