Panda looking for love near Luton
Thursday 25 June 2009
Keepers are hoping that ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s latest arrival, Maggie a two-year-old Red Panda, will find love in her new home.
One of just 30,000 red pandas worldwide, Maggie was orphaned when her mother died of bone cancer just over two years ago.
A keeper at Curraghs Wildlife Park, Isle of Man, stepped in and hand-reared the then one-month-old baby.
Maggie’s new enclosure is a large oak tree which she can climb to her heart’s content. She has nesting boxes she can hide in and will eat bamboo, fruit and veg and animal pellets. She is settling in really well and loves the view as she climbs very high.
Maggie’s arrival at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is part of an international recommendation that she become part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). It is as part of this breeding programme that a suitable male would be found for her.
Malcolm Fitzpatrick, curator of mammals for ZSL, said: “It’s not quite a case of putting an ad in the lonely hearts column looking for a panda with a GSOH or who likes eating out and in animal terms it’s more precise a search than say a finding a male who shares the same taste in bamboo or small rodents just like Maggie.
“We’d have a recommendation from the EEP of when a suitable male comes up – and this can take some time. The breeding programme recommends a match of a male the right age and reading for breeding, but also on the basis of a suitable genetic match, so that the offspring are genetically viable.
“There’s no urgency to find a male right now, the breeding season is in the spring and in the wild a female would often go off on their own, leaving their mother, to lead a solitary existence before finding a mate and breeding.
“It means for Maggie’s purposes, she can settle in, get her pad how she likes it before a boisterous male arrives!”
(c) Mike Bean
(c) Mike Bean