Rare red panda cub born at Smithsonian’s conservation facility

A rare red panda gave birth recently to a cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, researchers said.

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Moonlight, a 4-year-old red panda, gave birth June 12 to the cub, which weighed about 6 ounces, a normal weight for newborns, and is already covered in tufts of rust-colored fur, officials said.

The cub will stay in the nest box with its mother for the next two to three months until its eyes open and it starts walking. Moonlight has been seen through cameras in her nest box grooming and nursing the cub. It will stay with its mother until it’s 12 to 18 months old, researchers said.

Moonlight has given birth previously. She had two cubs in 2017, although one died shortly after birth. She was bred with Frank, an 11-year-old red pando who came to the facility from the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.

The newborn cub will be named in the coming months, after its sex is determined at its first thorough veterinarian exam, DCist reported.

Red pandas are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute breeds and studies red pandas in an effort to save them from extinction. The wildlife group now has five red pandas, including the newborn cub.

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