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Adorable debut: Red panda cubs venture outside at the Prospect Park Zoo

By Noah Singer

PROSPECT PARK — In another successful moment for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s endangered species breeding program, two red panda cubs born at the Prospect Park Zoo are beginning to explore their habitat. 

Visitors can witness the awkward, kitten-like babies taking some of their first steps outdoors in the coming weeks. 

“The cubs are tiny replicas of their parents and, like little children, they’re still wobbly and bouncy when they walk and run,” Director of the Prospect Park Zoo Denise McClean told this paper. “They look like plush toys playing.”

Red pandas are known for their tree climbing agility and large, bushy tails. They have very soft, red-brown coats for warmth and black limbs and bellies. 

Photos by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
One of the cubs explores its surroundings.

The cubs’ mother, Willow, has cared for them indoors since their summer birth. Now, they are old enough to head outside. 

“As an endangered species and part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, these cubs are part of a successful breeding program and we’re very proud to be able to contribute to this effort,” said McClean. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s breeding program helps stabilize endangered animal populations within its zoos. The cubs will reach adulthood in about a year.

Photos by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
The babies take a walk with their mother, Willow.

Fans can tune into the upcoming season of the Animal Planet docu-series “THE ZOO” this winter for a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo’s red panda breeding program. 

The Prospect Park Zoo is located at 450 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect Park and is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., November through March. For more information, visit www.prospectparkzoo.com.

Photos by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
One of the cubs takes a cautious stroll. 
Photos by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
A cub makes one of its first climbs.

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