Meet the newest and fluffiest residents of the Nashville Zoo: two red panda cubs.
The cubs were born on June 16 to Mei Mei, the zoo announced Thursday. Both cubs are healthy and bonding with their mother in an off exhibit den, where they will stay for about three months, according to Zoo officials.
“This is the second red panda birth at Nashville Zoo, and the first litter for first time mom, Mei Mei,” said Jennifer Wu, carnivore keeper in a statement. “We were able to track Mei Mei’s pregnancy progress because she allowed keepers to conduct ultrasounds during her regular training sessions. This helped the animal care team estimate a due date and properly plan for the big day.”
Known for their auburn-colored fur, the three-week-old cubs are grey and won't fully open their eyes until they are around one-month-old, the zoo said. The red panda is native to central China, Nepal and Northern Myanmar. Due to habitat destruction and slow rates of reproduction, the red panda is considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Red pandas are not related to the giant panda but more closely with raccoons and skunks and will eventually grown slightly larger than a house cat. In the wild they subside on bamboo, insects and eggs.
Even though it will be a few months before the cubs make their public debut, fans can watch the newborns nestle with their mother Mei Mei on a livestream camera here.