An endangered red panda cub has been described as a “symbol of hope”.
Red panda Tilly, from Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, gave birth to a cub affectionately named Little Red on July 16, and the ‘amazing’ moment was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras.
However, the moment was tinged with sadness when Tilly’s partner, Nam Pang, died in June of Addison’s disease, about a month before Little Red was brought into the world.
The pair met at an international breeding program, with the zoo part of the European Ex-Situ Breeding Programme, which aims to create a safety net for endangered species in the wild.
The couple tried unsuccessfully to conceive for the past four years, and keepers noticed that Tilly began nesting two weeks after Nam Pang’s death.
Aaron Whitnall, the zoo’s operations coordinator, said the cub has become “a symbol of hope, following the tragic death of Nam Pang, because his memory and his living legacy are more than that we never expected.”
He added: “The birth of Little Red creates a beautiful ending to a tragic and heartbreaking story that shocked the community in June.”
Keepers can’t determine Little Red’s sex yet, but hope to do so around six months.
The animals won fans from all over the world, who sent messages of support and love to Tilly.
Red pandas have been classified as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, with fewer than 2,500 left in the wild.
They are highly threatened due to factors such as deforestation and the illegal pet trade.