Two of Lee Richardson Zoo's four new red panda cubs died from health complications Friday, though the remaining two are doing well.
After giving birth to three of the four cubs on Wednesday, red panda Ember left one cub in a denning box and curled up with the other two in a separate den, according to a press release. Zoo staff pulled the lone cub, a female, to be hand-reared. She is doing well. About two hours later, Ember gave birth to the fourth cub.
Since it is difficult for red pandas to tend to triplets, staff also pulled one of the three cubs from Ember for individual care. That second cub pulled, a male, had injuries of an unknown origin that made his survival questionable but no terminal damage or permanent or deteriorating quality of life issue was noted at the time, according to the release. Staff worked to give the male "a fighting chance," according to the press release.
The male cub and another cub being mother-reared both died Friday.
“The little fella gave all he had as did zoo staff but it just wasn’t enough,” said Kristi Newland, zoo director, in the release. “He may have only been with us for a little while, but it hurts to have lost him; and while we weren’t as involved with the one that passed while Ember was doing her best to raise it, that’s a loss we feel also. Moving forward, we have to focus on the two cubs still with us.”
Ember and her two cubs are indoors, where they will most likely stay until late September or early October. Until then, footage of mom and cubs will be on the zoo’s website (www.leerichardsonzoo.org), the zoo Facebook page, YouTube channel and local cable Channel 8.