Two red panda cubs (Ailurus fulgens refulgens) are making their public debut at WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo.

The pair of male cubs were born over the summer in their indoor den where their mother, Willow, has been caring for them. They are now old enough to venture outside to explore their habitat.

Adult red pandas have reddish-brown and black coats that serve as camouflage in the wild. Panda cubs are born much lighter in color and have a very soft, plush coat. Their color darkens as they mature and grow. They reach adulthood at around 18 months.

WCS has been successful breeding red pandas at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo. The breeding programs at each park are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in accredited zoos.

The red pandas at the Prospect Park Zoo, Styan’s red pandas, are a subspecies from the eastern portion of the Himalayan range in China and northern Myanmar. The subspecies of red panda at the Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo are western red pandas (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) which are native to the western part of the Himalayas.  Styan’s red pandas are a bit larger and have a deeper red color.

The story of the work that happens behind the scenes to facilitate the red panda breeding program will be featured in an episode during the coming season of THE ZOO on Animal Planet. The fourth season of the popular docu-series will premiere in early 2020.