SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A win for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo as they introduce another red panda cub into their program to save endangered species.

The female cub was born on July 31, 2022, to mother Simone and father Ketu.

This was Simone’s first birth, and a successful one at that. However, Ketu has fathered several other red panda cubs in the past.

Simone tended closely to the cub and did not leave the panda building for two months post-birth.

She joined Ketu at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo back in 2018.

“We are very excited about the birth of this very special red panda cub and proud of the animal care team’s dedication and commitment to the protection of endangered species,” said County Executive Ryan McMahon.

What makes this birth so significant is that it falls under the Species Survival Plan (SSP), as its unique bloodline provides genetic diversity for the species in managed populations. Hence, it being beneficial to the endangered population of red pandas.

Red panda populations are decreasing due to deforestation of their nesting tree habitats, poaching for their red coats and bamboo food sources.

“The birth of a new red panda is crucial for their endangered population. The birth comes after a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, a highly strategic population management and conservation program designed to manage critically endangered animals,” said The Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

It is currently estimated that there are less than 5,000 red pandas in the world.

“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.”

Red pandas are native to Eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. Although similar in name to the large black and white panda, they are not related. The only thing they share is the bamboo in their diets!

The baby cub had its first official health check in September – she’s healthy! Her weight came in at 19 ounces.

According to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, the new cub will remain at the zoo for at least a year as she matures but will eventually move to another zoo to participate in the SSP.

Simone and Ketu will remain at the zoo, and their breeding recommendation will continue. The mother-cub duo will stay off exhibit until Simone and her cub is more comfortable and the baby becomes more mobile.

The zoo is inviting YOU, the community, to help name the red panda cub through an online voting process. NewsChannel 9 will update you when further information is available.

To find out more about red pandas, you can check out Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s informational page on them!