Today marks Red Panda day - what can we do to save them?
They are amongst the cutest animals in the world but Red Pandas are endangered. Today is International Red Panda day, and the plight of the species is being highlighted.
Red Pandas are in decline partly because their habitat is being destroyed. The forests in the Eastern Himalayas where half of them live in are being cleared.
They are also poached for their distinctive pelts in China and Myanmar. Others are killed when they get caught in traps set for other animals such as wild pigs and deer.
In the wild the Red Panda population has fallen by 50 per cent in the last 18 years, so every Red Panda is precious, like the pair at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Called Lady Hilary and Chota, they have already produced one cub together. It was born in 2016 and called Mali and now lives at Woburn Safari Park.
John Patridge, senior curator of animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Red Pandas are endangered in the wild so a managed breeding programme between a large number of zoos is very important. Captive breeding has been quite a challenge but in recent years the numbers in Europe have improved.”
These numbers have risen from 286 in 2012 to 389 in 2016.
The Red Panda Network has been working since 2007 with communities monitoring numbers and helping protect or restore habitats.
Bristol Zoo offers a red panda experience where people go into the red panda enclosure with keepers.
Mr Partridge continued, “ This gives staff a great opportunity to talk about panda conservation with our guests.”
Bristol Zoological Society is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
For more information about the Society’s conservation projects, visit the website at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/save-wildlife.