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Sighting Alert: Meet Ruby and Rose

2-year-old sisters are now exploring their new home in Zoo Atlanta’s Asian Forest

Ruby and Rose, two new red panda sisters, may now be seen exploring their habitat at Zoo Atlanta. As they continue to acclimate to their new home, sightings of the pair are not yet guaranteed.

Ruby and Rose arrived at Zoo Atlanta on February 23, 2023, from Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee. The red pandas completed a routine quarantine period behind the scenes while updates were made to their habitat.

Extensive upgrades have been made to the red panda habitat, including new natural perching which will allow the red pandas, which are largely arboreal, to traverse the majority of the habitat without coming to the ground. Other improvements include an enlarged, enclosed, temperature-regulated building which allows Ruby and Rose the ability to choose where to spend their time, whether in open-air or enclosed areas.

Red pandas are a separate species from giant pandas, with which they share a distant common ancestor but to which they are not closely related. Giant pandas are members of the bear family, Ursidae, while red pandas are in their own family, Ailuridae. Known for the lustrous red coats that earned them the Chinese name hunho, or “fire fox,” red pandas are generally solitary in the wild, but may be found in small groups.

There are two subspecies of red pandas. The Himalayan subspecies, which Ruby and Rose represent, is native to Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of India, while the second subspecies is native to China. Red pandas are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition to their greatest challenge of habitat loss, red pandas are threatened by poaching for their pelts and capture for the illegal pet trade. Zoo Atlanta currently supports red panda conservation through its Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund. Funding from Zoo Atlanta works to counteract habitat loss by enabling continued support of the Red Panda Network’s reforestation nursery in Jaubari, Nepal.

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