Potter Park Zoo welcomes endangered red panda cub

A red panda cub has been welcomed with open arms at a Michigan Zoo.

Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan, helped its 8-year-old red panda, Maliha, deliver her precious cub in late July.

The birth is considered a significant win for the species, as red pandas are an endangered species, the facility wrote in a recent press release.

Fewer than 205 red pandas are accounted for in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program.

Maliha’s cub, whose name has yet to be revealed, is considered “a valuable addition to the population,” according to the Potter Park Zoo.

The cub is Maliha’s second successful litter she’s delivered in two years.

In a statement, the zoo’s Carnivore Area Lead Keeper Annie Marcum said, “Maliha is doing great. She’s an experienced mother and has been excellent with the newborn. The cub is actively nursing and growing at a healthy rate.”

Maliha’s partner is Deagan-Reid, a red panda who was transferred from the Knoxville Zoo in 2021 to the Potter Park Zoo as part of the AZA’s Species Survival Program.

Red panda Maliha delivered her cub at Michigan’s Potter Park Zoo.
Twitter/ Potter Park Zoo

The program aims to maintain genetic diversity with careful animal pairing.

The mother and cub will be cared for out of the public’s eye for a short time, but visitors will be able to see Deagan-Reid at his exhibit.

Red panda newborns are born deaf and blind and are small enough to fit in a human palm, according to the Potter Park Zoo.

It reportedly takes about two weeks for red panda cubs to open their eyes and about two months for them to venture outside their nests.

A zookeeper holds the baby Red Panda.
The newborn has yet to be named.
Twitter/ Potter Park Zoo

Wildlife veterinarians at the zoo are monitoring the mother and cub through a hidden nest box camera.

Wellness checks and updates about the cub’s growth and development will be provided to the public in coming weeks, the zoo said.

Fox News Digital reached out to Potter Park Zoo for comment.

Visually, red pandas appear similar to bears and raccoons.

A red panda on a tree takes a leaf for lunch at the zoo in Cologne, Germany.
Red pandas are native to Asia and live in temperate forests.
AP/Martin Meissner

Yet the small mammal is not closely related to either species, and it’s actually a part of the ailuridae family — an unspecialized carnivore species that originated in Europe and dispersed into Asia and North America.

Red pandas are the sole survivors of this mammalian family tree.

Its closest relative — the long extinct simocyon — was a puma-like creature that lived about 18 million years ago, National Geographic reports.

Experts estimate that less than 10,000 red pandas live in the wild throughout temperate forests in the Eastern Himalayas, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The red-furred and ring-tailed animal is currently protected in China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and India.

It can grow up to 24 inches in length, reach a weight of up to 17 pounds and usually live between 9 and 13 years.

Gestation periods last for about 135 days — and red pandas typically give birth to one to four cubs at a time.

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