Red River Zoo Protects and Breeds Endangered Red Panda

The Red Panda was one of the first major attractions to the Red River Zoo

FARGO–The Red River Zoo is working to breed endangered animals.

Siblings Waveland and Sheffield have made the Red River Zoo their home.

These bamboo eaters are not like your typical pandas.

“Obviously, giant pandas are great, but red pandas, they’re very unique,” Red River Zookeeper Marcy Thompson said. “They are in a family all by themselves, they are endangered so people should know more about them and find out ways to help them.”

The Red Panda was one of the first major attractions to the Red River Zoo.

Zookeepers, like Thompson, take pride in proper panda care and are making an effort to breed these endangered animals.

“We’ve had about 13 cubs born here at the zoo,” Thompson said. “We’ve been really successful. We’ve actually been so successful that we’ve basically flooded the current population with this genetic line.”

The zoo belongs to a Species Survival Plan which matches pandas genetically to ensure breeding.

“The goal is to be able, if these animals were to go extinct in the wild, that we could repopulate a healthy, sustainable population for one hundred years,” Red River Zoo executive director Sally Jacobson said. “So, you can imagine the science that goes into that.”

At one point, the Red River Zoo was North America’s largest Red Panda breeder.

More and more zoos are beginning to take part in Red Panda breeding.

“Here in Fargo, the arc of light, the temperature, all of those environmental cues for breeding are very similar to their native habitat,” Jacobson said. “So that’s why we’re thinking that we have such success with some of these cold climate species.”

It looks like the zoo is going to have more breeding success soon.

“The SSP has arranged for us to get a new breeding pair that we’re really excited about, so hopefully we’re going to have some new babies here soon at the zoo,” Thompson said.

The Red Panda exhibit has been at the Red River Zoo for the past twenty years.

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