Wellington Zoo is helping to save Red Pandas in the wild by supporting Red Panda Network’s Forest Guardian Programme through the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.
The programme focuses on addressing deforestation – the main threat to the survival of Red Pandas. Local people are employed to organise awareness building workshops within their villages and schools to promote habitat protection. They also undertake Red Panda population and habitat monitoring to support the Red Panda Network’s research. The Zoo’s work to save Red Pandas is three-fold: supporting protection of their habitat in eastern Nepal, participating in a species management programme and engaging our visitors with the work Wellington Zoo is doing to support Red Panda conservation in the wild.
“The conservation classification for Red Pandas has recently been changed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature from vulnerable to endangered – in recognition of their dwindling numbers in the wild,” said Jenny Lynch, Conservation Manager at Wellington Zoo. “Red Pandas are a unique species, and with their populations in decline, it is important to act now.”
“Their habitat is also an important resource for surrounding communities. The Red Panda Network works directly with the Nepalese people to create a new system in which protecting the prime habitat of Red Pandas will actually benefit the people sharing the resource.”
“Good zoos around the world work together for the conservation of endangered species like Red Pandas through global and regional conservation breeding programmes. Conservation breeding programmes help to maintain healthy populations, build knowledge of good animal husbandry, and provide care and support for wild conservation projects.”
Red Pandas are primarily solitary animals who form pairs during breeding season. This is short-lived – females are only in season for one day a year, making cubs rare and precious. Sundar, a male Red Panda, moved to Wellington Zoo from Auckland Zoo last year to be paired with female Khusi.
“Sundar and Khusi have been getting on well, and our focus has been making sure they’re comfortable in their habitat,” says Paul Horton, Life Science Manager. “The plan from here is to pair them up for the 2017 breeding season.”
Visitors can meet the Zoo’s Red Pandas in a Close Encounter, and learn more about how they can help Red Pandas in the wild. 10% from every Red Panda Close Encounter goes directly to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, helping to save animals in the wild.
Author: Libby Callander – Marketing and Communications Manager