A red panda has given birth to a cub at Darjeeling’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the largest high-altitude zoo in the country. An official of the Darjeeling-based zoo said that it was the birth of the fifth red panda at the park this season, and both the mother, Yeshi, and the baby are doing fine. Officials are yet to name the cub. The red panda, an endangered species, primarily a herbivore, predominantly likes cold climatic regions and almost 50 per cent of them are found in Eastern Himalayas.
News agency ANI shared images of the panda moving around in the zoological park and walking on a tree. One of the images also showed it sleeping inside its shelter.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a red panda has a bear-like body. Its belly and limbs are black. On the side of the head and above its small eyes, there are white markings. These animals are skillful and acrobatic and they mostly stay on trees using their long, bushy tails for balance. They also use the tail to cover themselves in winters.
The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is globally known for its conservation breeding programmes of red panda, snow leopards, Tibetan wolf and other highly endangered animal species of Eastern Himalayas. It was established in 1958 with an aim to maintain the ecological balance in the sensitive region.
In Sikkim, neighbouring West Bengal, the residents honour the red panda, who are under growing threat from climate change and increasing deforestation, which is leading to a reduction in their natural habitat. There are now fewer than 10,000 left in the wild, according to WWF. Poaching is another big threat to the pandas, who are killed for their distinctive fur in China and Myanmar.
It is believed that pandas got their name from the Nepali word “ponya”, which means bamboo or plant-eating animal.