At 3.5 months old and 4.4 pounds, the Sacramento Zoo’s male Red Panda cub finally has a name, Kodari. Kodari is the name of a city in Nepal and is one of only two north-south roadways connecting Nepal and Tibet via the Himalayas. Historically, it is the beginning of the trans-Himalayan caravan route that has been referred to as the Nepalese equivalent of the Silk Road, thus has played a culturally significant role in the development of both Nepal and Tibet.
|Kodari the Red Panda. Photo credit, Amanda Mayberry|
Three of the Sacramento Zoo’s animal care team will be traveling to eastern Nepal with Red Panda Network (RPN) in October. RPN is one of the many conservation programs that the Sacramento Zoo supports. While there, they will be working with RPN to increase awareness of the plight of animals in the area and to build relationships with the local people. They will also be hiking into the forest to spot and track Red Pandas as well as to monitor areas that have been affected by deforestation. We hope to strengthen the bond between the Sacramento Zoo and conservation efforts in the field while also helping us to continue to educate guests about this unique part of the world and the challenges facing pandas and other wildlife.
“We can help Red Pandas by sharing our passion with Zoo guests and encouraging others to care as much as we do,” said zookeeper Amanda Mayberry, who will be going on the trip. “We will have the ability to tell people, ‘I have been there. I have seen what they are going through. We need to do something about this.’”
Kodari was born June 8th and is being hand-reared due to inconsistent care from his mother. Since graduating from the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital located on Zoo grounds to an off-exhibit area of the Claire Mower Red Panda Forest, Kodari has acclimated to the larger space and enjoys running, jumping and playing. While wrestling with his stuffed animals, climbing on bamboo and cruising around his new space, he is also developing the necessary skills to interact with other Red Pandas.
Kodari is currently in the process of being weaned from formula to an adult diet of bamboo and Mazuri leaf-eater biscuits. As with any weaning process, it takes some time and effort on the keepers’ part and the cooperation of the youngster. Weaning is stressful for zookeepers and veterinarians as it is a time when Red Panda cubs have a high mortality rate. The Zoo is still cautiously optimistic about his health.
Kodari is also taking his first steps towards being introduced to the Zoo’s adult Red Pandas. Zoo staff is in the beginning stages of determining which of the adult pandas will be best-suited to act as a mentor for our cub. Currently he does have visual access to two of the Red Pandas (his parents). Kodari appears to be far more interested in these adult pandas than they are in him something that is typical for this species.
Red Pandas, like many species that inhabit the Himalayan forests, are endangered. The most common threat to their survival is loss of habitat by human encroachment and domestic cattle grazing. Although law protects them, their beautiful coloration makes them highly vulnerable to poachers in the fur trade. Due to their quiet nature they are even found in the pet trade. The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® for Red Pandas.