Red Panda Cub Born at Mill Mountain Zoo
Reporter: David Tate
Roanoke, VA - He weighs in at just a pound and is just starting to look around, but it's still too early for Mill Mountain Zoo's latest addition to come out and say hello.
Eventually the new baby red panda will look a lot like his father, Takeo. Even though right now, the nameless cub looks more like an odd-colored baby bear.
Hannah Guss was in Roanoke hoping to catch a peek of the cub. But at just three weeks old, his mother, Nova, is having nothing to do with that just yet. Not a problem for Guss. She likes the parents too.
"They look kind of like raccoons and bears and foxes all mixed together," she said. "They're adorable. I love them, they're my favorite."
Mill Mountain Zoo is happy as well, considering the Red Panda is one of 18 species at the zoo that are part of a special breeding program.
"There are not a lot of panda babies in the US and they are just adding more genetic diversity to the species," said Jessica Embry, an animal keeper at the zoo.
The young male is the first for this couple as Takeo has just come into sexual maturity.
He was also a surprise for staff, which only had a few hours to prepare, who were tipped off when Nova started acting funny.
"She was starting to carry around nesting material and she was looking uncomfortable and that's when we actually knew we were going to have babies," Embry said.
An exciting event for onlookers and staff alike.
"It's just a great indicator of what a great job we're doing up here; happy animals make babies and people are excited about babies. They want to see them," said Robin Lentz, an animal collections manager.
The new panda cub will only be at the zoo for about seven months before his father won't be able to tolerate him anymore and he'll be placed in another zoo.
The Red Panda is cousins of both the raccoon and the bear and is found in the wild in parts of Asia including China, Tibet and Mongolia.