Could Tashi, our red panda, be blushing red for her new male resident?
Red pandas are notoriously shy animals, so it’s taking Tashi some time getting used to sharing her den with new male on the block – Blue.
Blue has been at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for the past couple of years, living in an off-show enclosure. In the last few months he has been introduced into Tashi’s bachelorette pad, and is now making himself at home.
“We’re introducing the pair with the hope that the two will breed,” says Senior Keeper Steve Perry. “So far it appears to be going well; I’ve definitely seen some cuddling in the mornings.”
Though red pandas like to spend most of their time by themselves, both Blue and Tashi are still finding time to get to know each other. When they’re not having some early morning snuggling, Blue has taken to hiding in his tree. Climbing is favourite occupation of most red pandas, which use their skills as a defence tactic against threats.
“He doesn’t really mess around too much. Mostly he’ll be up in his tree, up until dinner time… then he comes down and has a massive scoff!” Perhaps Tashi knows that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?
As the temperature cools for the upcoming winter months, keepers are hopeful that this chill will inspire some heated romance between the red panda pair. Hailing from as far as the mountains of Nepal, red pandas are naturally adapted to cold weather.
Traditionally, they stay warm by utilising their dense red fur, but we like to think some more cuddles will keep this pair feeling toasty in the coming winter months.
Tashi has already once proven herself to be an excellent mother, when she birthed two healthy cubs last year . It is hoped that she will have repeat success with Blue. The red pandas are categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the wild, with fewer than 10,000 thought to remain.