One loves grapes and the other prefers apples. Benjamin and Amaya, the zoo’s two new red pandas, have found each other at the Sacramento Zoo. Both arrived the same day in November as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Panda Species Survival Plan® breeding and transfer recommendations. Benjamin came from the Philadelphia Zoo and Amaya from the Rosemond Gifford Zoo. He is the more cautious of the two, preferring to sit back and take everything in. She is a bit braver and loves to seek out attention from her caretakers. The two will live behind-the-scenes for privacy due to the sensitive nature of red panda breeding habits and the seclusion needed for rearing cubs.
“I am looking forward to learning more about these two individuals and to contribute to the Red Panda Species Survival Plan®,” said Lead Primary Carnivore Zookeeper Amanda Watters. “I have successfully cared for this species here at the Sacramento Zoo for many years, and have been lucky enough to visit Nepal and learn about steps we can take to preserve red pandas in the wild.”
While Benjamin and Amaya will be hanging out in their private quarters, guests will still be able to see Takeo and Pili on exhibit. The red panda facility at the Sacramento Zoo was built specifically to house two groups of red panda. Similar to Benjamin and Amaya, Takeo and Pili also lived behind-the-scenes during their younger years. You may recall their cub Kodari, born in 2013. He now lives at the San Francisco Zoo. Takeo (9-years-old) and Pili (7-years-old) have now retired to the exhibit where they can enjoy their golden years snacking on grapes and snoozing on their favorite branches high in the exhibit.
Red pandas are native to Eastern Asia, including Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet and south-central China. They are mostly solitary small carnivores whose markings mimic the reddish-brown tree trunks of their habitats. Also known as a “fire fox” or “bamboo cat”, red pandas are Endangered. The median life expectancy for this species is 10.5, however, the Sacramento Zoo has been lucky enough to give geriatric pandas exceptional care with some of the former residents living into their late teens. The Sacramento Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, an organization committed to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities. The Sacramento Zoo has been an active participant in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan® since 1999.
Visit the Sacramento Zoo to learn more about these amazing animals and steps you can take to help save the species in the wild.