Twin red pandas born at Lincoln Children’s Zoo
Lincoln Children’s Zoo is excited to announce the birth of twin red pandas, an endangered species. The male cubs, named William and Robin, were born at Lincoln Children’s Zoo on June 25, 2023, to second-time mom, Tián, and first-time dad, Rowan. In 2022, Tián gave birth to Betty, the first red panda cub born at the Zoo in eight years.
Newborn red panda cubs are about the size of a twinkie with thick gray fur and are born with their eyes and ears closed. William and Robin both opened their eyes at about two months old. Both cubs are male, but zookeepers can tell them apart by their size and color. William is bigger and more grayish and lighter in color. Robin is the smaller one and has always been a bit darker in color.
After giving birth, in the wild female red pandas will use tree hollows or rock crevices lined with plant material for nests. To replicate this, Zookeepers at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo created six nest boxes behind the scenes with bamboo and wood wool inside as nesting material. The multiple nest boxes allow Tián to choose which box she wants them in. Red panda moms will move their cubs around to keep them away from predators or when there are environment stressors. Mothers will spend almost all their time in the nest box with the cub for the first few weeks after giving birth and as the cub gets older, they will spend longer periods of time away but still in proximity.
“Red Pandas are an endangered species with less than 10,000 remaining in the wild, so this birth is incredibly important for animal conservation efforts,” said Evan Killeen, Lincoln Children’s Zoo CEO. “This is Tián’s second birth and she’s been doing an incredible job taking care of her young alongside our zoo team who has created a healthy and comfortable environment for her to do so.”
Red Pandas are listed as Endangered on the International Union Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan Program. The program develops a Breeding and Transfer Plan which identifies population goals and recommendations to manage a genetically diverse, demographically varied, and biologically sound population. The plan’s coordinators approved breeding recommendations for the Zoo’s red pandas Tián and Rowan.
Tián, William, and Robin currently have access to their exhibit space; however, guests will likely not see them on exhibit until sometime this fall. The cubs will continue to spend almost all their time in their nest boxes as their motor skills continue to develop and as they learn to climb and move on their own.