BOSTON (CBS) – Two red panda twins were born at the Franklin Park Zoo recently, marking the zoo’s first birth of this species.

The twins, a male and female, were born on July 4 to Stella Luna, age 6, and Yang, age 5.

The breeding was recommended as part of the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, which is a national, cooperative program designed to maintain a diverse and stable captive population of the species.

The wild red panda population, threatened by habitat loss, is scarce and declining.

“As with any new birth, we are closely monitoring the mother and cubs,” said Zoo New England President and CEO John Linehan. “Stella Luna has proven to be an excellent mother and she is doing everything a red panda mother should.”

The typical gestation period for red pandas is about 134 days, and females give birth to up to four cubs. Born helpless and with eyes closed, the cubs stay in the nest box with their mother for about the first 90 days.

The twins, which are not yet named, are expected to be on public view by the end of October.

“We hope people will come out to see the cubs and learn more about these fascinating little animals,” Linehan said.

Red pandas, which resemble raccoons, have white and red markings and are covered with dense fur. They use their long, bushy tails to balance when they are in trees. In the wild, red pandas can be found in the cool temperate bamboo forests in the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan in China, as well as in the Himalayas and Myanmar. They share part of their range with giant pandas, a species they are not related to, despite their similar names.


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