Time is running out to see the Woodland Park Zoo’s adorable red panda cubs. The twins will be moving to other zoos soon and the last day to visit them is April 14.
Zeya and Ila were born in June and were the zoo’s first successful red-panda births in nearly 30 years. A month after their public debut in November, the twins escaped from their exhibit when a tree branch broke, leading zoo staff on a 15-hour search before they were lured back with apples.
Zeya is moving to Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo and Adventure Park in Green Bay, and Ila is moving to the Toronto Zoo. Red pandas naturally separate from their mother at about 10 months, and they’ll be introduced to males for future breeding at their new zoos.
“The twins are reaching the age of natural separation and are beginning to show signs of wanting to be separated from each other,” Mark Myers, an animal curator at Woodland Park Zoo, said in a news release. “Separating them in a couple of weeks will allow us to adequately prepare them for the move to their new homes.”
The Red Panda Species Survival Plan, a conservation program that paired the cubs’ parents Hazel and Yukiko, recommended the cubs’ move. Red pandas are endangered and fewer than 10,000 remain in their native habitat of Asian bamboo forests, according to the zoo.
“Red panda breeding used to be very difficult, and as we’ve learned more about the species it’s been more successful,” animal keeper Jamie Delk told The Seattle Times in November.
Carson, the zoo’s 4-year-old red panda, will replace the cubs in the public exhibit. Hazel and Yukiko will remain off view in their private yard — the zoo is trying to breed them again and is hoping to have more cubs this year.