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Zoo greets newborn female red panda

– A female red panda entered the world Monday at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

The zoo announced the birth Thursday. The cub weighed only one-third of a pound.

This is the third litter of red panda cubs born at the zoo since 1997, the zoo said.

If past events are any indication, the newest cub will have to fight for survival. None of the earlier cubs – one in 2013 and two in 2012 – lived more than two weeks.

That is not unusual for a zoo.

About half of all red panda cubs born in captivity die within 30 days of birth, according to zoo officials.

To help give the cub every chance for survival, the zoo has closed the pathway in front of the red panda exhibit.

“We are monitoring the cub and are cautiously optimistic at this point,” area manager Shelley Scherer said.

“There are still many challenges ahead for this little cub,” she said.

Daily weigh-ins will continue, and supplemental feeding and hand-rearing are options the zoo staff could take to help the cub survive.

“We always prefer that animals raise their own young, but we are prepared to do all we can to ensure the survival of the cub,” animal curator Mark Weldon said.

Even with staff intervention, he said, hand-reared cubs only have a 50 percent chance of survival.

If the cub survives, guests are unlikely to see her outside of the nest box until August or September, Scherer said.

The zoo said it would post updates on its website and through social media.

Red pandas, an endangered species, are native to the Himalayas in China and Nepal and feed primarily on bamboo.

cmeyers@jg.net

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