KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Zoo Knoxville keepers are hand-raising a male red panda cub born on June 16.
The cub was underweight when it was born, and since red panda cubs are always pretty fragile at birth, they are watching it closely.
It spent the first few weeks of its life with its mother, while keepers did some supplemental feedings. However, she started trying to carry it around and they were worried she could accidentally drop or hurt the cub in some way, so they decided to take over the raising themselves.
Right now, the cub is constantly monitored and being fed five times a day. It is gaining weight and keepers are "cautiously optimistic" it will survive.
The zoo may try to return the cub to its mother if it keeps improving. They may also decide to find another cub of a similar age to "peer-rear" it with, either at Zoo Knoxville or another facility. Red pandas do best when they are raised with other cubs.
Zoo Knoxville is internationally recognized for its success in breeding and raising red panda cubs.
No other red panda cubs are expected at the zoo this year.
Last year, Zoo Knoxville hand raised four cubs at the zoo, one born in Knoxville and the others were orphans that came from other facilities. All four of them did very well and are currently in public view at Zoo Knoxville in the Boyd Family Panda Village.