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Endangered red panda cub welcomed at Longleat

Longleat in Wiltshire have welcomed the birth of an endangered red panda cub – the fourth new arrival for the park in the last three years.

The male cub has been named Turner and is particularly welcome as parents Rufina and Ajendra play a very important role in captive breeding programmes for red pandas worldwide.

Following an appeal by keepers, Dad Ajendra, which means ‘King of the Mountain, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012 and mum Rufina, meaning ‘red-haired’, arrived from Italy just over a year later.

Keeper Samantha Allworthy said: “At first we thought Rufina could be having twins again as she was so heavy; however it turned out she just had one very large, healthy baby!

“They are both such fantastic parents that we pretty much leave them to it and try to interfere as little as possible.

“We have been able to weigh Turner and confirm that he is a little boy and he is doing really well,” she added.

Red pandas are native to Nepal, Bhutan and China but have become increasingly under threat in the wild, along with their namesake the giant panda. Red pandas have been listed as an endangered species since 2008 when their global population was estimated at just 10,000.

In the wild red pandas are solitary animals, and they only really ever come together to breed. They spend much of their time in trees, sleeping and feeding on bamboo which makes up about two thirds of their food intake. Bamboo is not the most nutritious of foods so they have to eat a lot of it to survive.

For more information on visiting Longleat go to www.longleat.co.uk and click here to read more about the park’s fascinating history

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