This is your last week to see Marvin, the red panda cub, at the Idaho Falls Zoo. On Friday, August 23 he will take a private jet to his new home at Zoo Knoxville accompanied by animal care staff from both facilities.
Red pandas are endangered so each new cub is extremely important to the future of the species. Your Idaho Falls Zoo participates in the red panda Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperatively-managed breeding program between facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that manages captive threatened or endangered species. Part of being an AZA accredited organization is always providing the highest level of professional attention and welfare for the animals in our care as they serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts.
“We, of course, want to give this little cub the best chance possible for a healthy future,” says Zoo Director David Pennock, "and that means ensuring he’s raised with other cubs of his species.” Long-term professional animal care experience in zoos accredited by AZA has shown it is essential for red panda cubs to be raised with other red pandas for proper social development. In the wild, adult red pandas are solitary except during the mating season. Cubs will stay with their mother for about one year and then will head off on their own. Unlike lions or gibbons which are social species, red panda females will not accept cubs back once they have been taken away for hand-raising. In Marvin’s case, it was clear his only chance of survival was to be hand-raised.
Delilah, the zoo’s six year-old female and first-time mom, gave birth to two cubs on June 29. Unfortunately, one cub passed away shortly after birth and she abandoned Marvin at five days old. It’s not uncommon for first-time moms to be confused or unsure how to care for young.
The red panda SSP works with zoos that have singleton red panda cubs to form one or more peer-groups, where several panda cubs can be raised together. Zoo Knoxville is the recognized expert in red panda husbandry. Their extensive experience, highly qualified staff, and facilities have led to them demonstrating a high success rate raising healthy and well-adjusted red panda cubs in the peer group rearing program.
Head on over to the zoo to see Marvin in the Primate Center and watch him being fed at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily through August 22.
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Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer, Bud Cranor at 208-612-8306.
About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park: With more than 330 individual animals representing 130 species from all around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo is known as the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo participates in 44 Species Survival Plans. Learn more on our website.