June 19, 2008

Two Tiny Red Pandas Latest Arrivals in Program Aimed at Keeping Species Alive

EDMONTON - Two tiny red pandas at Edmonton's Valley Zoo are helping to carry the survival of their species on their furry shoulders.

Tai and Pip were born May 26, and have already almost tripled their birth weights of 112 and 147 grams.

They're the second set of twins born to the zoo's pair of adult red pandas and are part of a breeding program aimed at ensuring survival of the species.

The two were taken from their mother shortly after birth when she began grooming one aggressively, and have been cared for around the clock by a zoo animal health technologist.

Only four red pandas were born in captivity in North America last year - including twin siblings to Tai and Pip.

It's estimated there are around 2,000 to 5,000 of the animals in the wild, although it's not known how the recent earthquake in China may have affected the count.