Zoo Debuts Twin Babies at Red Panda Party
Rosamond Gifford Zoo celebrates International Red Panda Day with new additions to exhibit.
By Eric Baker, Syracuse Post-Standard
SYRACUSE, N.Y.-Saturday, Sept. 15, was International Red Panda Day and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo celebrated by introducing two new red panda cubs to visitors to help raise awareness around conservation for the endangered species.
The twins, named Doofah and Loofah, were born in June and on full display with their family as zookeepers gave background and shared stories with patrons about the red panda. The twin brothers are named after characters from the movie, The Land Before Time.
“The cubs are being hand-raised by keepers after their mother, Tabei, demonstrated some difficulty in caring for them on her own,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox.
Red pandas are endangered, finding their Himalayan habitats increasingly under attack. The small, raccoon-like creatures are susceptible to deforestation and illegal poaching. Additionally, the red panda relies solely on bamboo for sustenance, the only trait it shares with its namesake, the giant panda.
The Red Panda Network started International Red Panda Day in 2009 to raise awareness for the creatures. In 2018, the group expected over 100,000 visitors to partake in International Red Panda Day activities at more than 60 zoos worldwide.
"Red pandas are unfortunately an endangered species and there's less than 10,000 in the wild right now," said Fox. "The [Red] Panda Network is doing tremendous work in the Himalayan mountains where the pandas are from."
From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., visitors were invited to speak with zookeepers about the red panda, entered a raffle for paintings done by another red panda, Basil, enjoyed face painting, and more. All proceeds raised from Basil’s painting will support conservation for red pandas in the wild.
Amy Santiago, 30, who was at the zoo with her two children said, “The red pandas are so cute; the kids love seeing them climb around and play in the trees. It’s heartbreaking to hear anyone would want to hurt them.”
The first 250 families to arrive with children received “Red Panda Ranger” activity booklets. According to the event’s Facebook page, a “Red Panda Ranger" is a child who has learned about red pandas and is ready to spread the word about the importance of conservation!”
The Rosamond Giffords Zoo is a part of the Species Survival Plan for red pandas and works to increase red panda populations while maintaining biodiversity for stronger offspring. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.