Celebration as rare red panda twins born in Dutch zoo.

Two red pandas, members of a species facing rapid extinction, have been born in a zoo in the Netherlands – while their vulnerable family members in the wild are being wiped out daily by logging and poaching.

“Births among red pandas are pretty rare and so you can imagine how excited we were to find two beautiful little cubs, and not just the one we were hoping for,” said keeper, Mirthe Wesbonk of Amersfoort zoo, which works with the international Red Panda Network.

The remarkably cute creatures are native to southwestern China and the eastern slopes of the Himalayas, but despite conservation campaigns their numbers have been dwindling at an alarming rate. Roughly 50 per cent have disappeared in the past 20 years.

Only about 10,000 – at a very optimistic estimate – survive in their native habitats and those have become victims of their own cuteness and rarity with the result that they’re frequently stolen for their pelts or as pets, or in the belief that certain body parts have medicinal value.

At the same time, their habitats are being destroyed or broken up by industrial-scale logging and land clearance in unprotected wilderness areas; and so the small groups who do survive become separated from one another.

As a result of these relentless challenges, the embattled species suffers from a psychological condition known as “inbreeding depression”, which leads to reduced biological fitness in their population and contributes to the downward spiral in numbers.

At 50-60cm in height, with distinctive reddish fur and striped tails, they are now on the “red list” of species threatened with extinction kept by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s most comprehensive inventory of biological species.

“It’s true that they’re not doing too well in the wild and that’s another reason we were delighted to discover real red panda twins in our enclosure”, says Ms Wesbonk.

Even the keepers at the zoo, about 50km from Amsterdam, don’t know yet whether the new arrivals are male or female.

“We disturb them as little as possible and try not to go near the nest in their first weeks. It can sometimes be as long as three months before they make their first appearance. But being able to see such rare twins will be a really special experience.”

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

'Outnumbered' reacts to Harris' dipping poll numbers: 'She's not up to the task'.

'Outnumbered' reacts to Harris' dipping poll numbers: 'She's not up to the task'.

The 'Outnumbered' panel breaks down what the vice president's dipping favorability numbers in her first six months in office could mean for her presidential aspirations. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Cha...

Italy To Roll Out 'Green Pass' Vaccine Certificate System.

Italy To Roll Out 'Green Pass' Vaccine Certificate System.

Italy is the latest country in Europe to announce a vaccine certificate system in an attempt to persuade the unvaccinated to get a shot. The “green pass” will be needed to get into public venues like gyms and theaters.  » Subscribe to NBC News: » ...

Squad member spent $70K on security after push to defund police: Report.

Squad member spent $70K on security after push to defund police: Report.

Fox News contributor Joe Concha rips Missouri Rep. Cori Bush for hypocrisy of pushing ‘defund the police’ movement while paying for security. Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is ...

Iran's alleged secret cyber files revealed

Iran's alleged secret cyber files revealed

Classified documents, allegedly from Iran, reveal secret research into how a cyber attack could be used to sink a cargo ship or blow up a fuel pump at a petrol station. The internal files, obtained by Sky News, also include information on satellit...

1

U.S. sanctions Cuba following violent crackdown on protesters

U.S. sanctions Cuba following violent crackdown on protesters

The Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Cuba after its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters earlier this month. Russell Contreras, a race and justice reporter for Axios, joined CBSN to discuss. CBSN is CBS News’ 24/7 digital s...

Highlights from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Highlights from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team has a shaky start and Team USA continues to pick up gold medals. WATCH the ABC News Live Stream Here: SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS: Watch More on LIKE ABC News on FACEBOOK FOLLOW ABC News on TWITTER: #ABCNLUpdate #Olympic...