Rare red panda cubs born at Highland Wildlife Park

A COUPLE of endangered red pandas have given birth to a pair of rare cubs.

Kitty and Kevyn at Highland Wildlife Park. Picture: Alex Riddell

The duo of kits were born on June 14 and are said to be the same size as hamsters at the moment.

But those hoping to catch a glimpse of the twins at Royal Zoological Society Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie will have to wait until around September.

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Then, the pair will they will start to venture outside of their den.

It is thought that there are only 10,000 of the species remaining worldwide as a result of deforestation and poaching.

According to the IUCN Red List, the red panda is at a greater risk in the wild than its namesake the giant panda after conversation efforts helped reduce the decline of the bear from endangered to vulnerable.

Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at the Highland Wildlife Park, said they were the third litter at the park since 2013.

He said: “This is our third litter of red pandas from Kevyn and Kitty, the previous kits being born in 2013 and 2014.

“Our red pandas are part of the global captive breeding programme that is managed out of Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.

“The primary roles of the zoo pandas are to act as a safety net population should the species become extinct in the wild and to potentially provide animals for reintroduction.”

Red pandas are native to the Nepal, Bhutan, north-east India, Myanmar and south-central China.

Their name “panda” comes from the Nepalese term “nigalya panya”, which means “bamboo eater”.

Despite being called red pandas, they are not related to the black and white giant panda.

They are slightly larger than the average domestic cat but have a body similar to a bear.