Lee Richardson Zoo faced good news and bad news recently, with the growth and good health of two new red panda cubs and the passing of an 11-year-old otter.

Growing pandas

One of the zoo’s red pandas, Ember, gave birth to four cubs on July 17, though two died two days later and another was pulled away to be hand-reared. The living cubs are doing well, the zoo reported Wednesday. The female being hand-reared is growing each day and the other is doing fine under its mother’s care.

The 13-year-old cubs should be opening their eyes within the next seven to eight days, according to a press release.

In order to teach the hand-reared cub “how to be a red panda,” it has been matched up with another single, hand-reared cub close to its age at facility at the Detroit Zoo, according to the release. The facility also participates in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The cub and its new partner will be peer-reared together in Detroit starting in late August, according to the release.

An otter passes

While the cubs are doing well, staff also reported Wednesday that the zoo’s male North American river otter, Liwanu, died late last week after a dental procedure intended to address an infection and bad teeth. The 11-year-old otter has a history of dental issues and has been with the zoo since late 2010, according to the release.

Ariel, a 16-year-old female otter, can still be seen lounging or playing in the pool at the Kansas Waters habitat at the zoo.

Animal encounters

Sloth bear encounters are now available to visitors from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the Wild Asia sloth bear habitat, according to the release. Like the giraffe and rhino encounters also offered on weekends, this is an opportunity for guests to get an up-close experience with animals by offering them keeper-approved food with the assistance of zoo staff.

All animal encounters are contingent upon fair weather and the cooperation of the animals involved. Sloth bear encounters are one for $3 or two for $5. Funds from the encounters support zoo operations and conservation efforts.