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Welcome Jackie the red panda!

Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to welcome one of its most beloved species, the red panda, back to Atlanta. Jackie, a 3-year-old male red panda from Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is now exploring his new home in the Zoo’s Asian Forest complex.

Jackie’s debut balances happy news with what had been one of Zoo Atlanta’s sadder announcements of 2020: the passing of Idgie, a female red panda who died on April 2 at the geriatric age of nearly 14. Jackie’s move to Atlanta was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Red Panda Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which makes breeding recommendations or, as in Jackie’s case, housing recommendations, that support the continued success of the species for future generations.

“We’re so excited to welcome Jackie to Zoo Atlanta. The red panda is a species that resonates very keenly with our Members and guests,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “This is likely largely due to its appealing appearance, but this is a species that has an important story to tell about the health and preservation of the forests of Nepal, China, Tibet, India, Bhutan, Burma, and other areas where red pandas still exist.”

Red pandas are by nature a solitary species, so Jackie will get a chance to explore the red panda habitat, which has been especially retrofitted for his species, on his own terms. As he is still exploring his new environment, there is not yet a guarantee of seeing him.

Despite a few shared adaptations such as pseudothumbs for grasping a diet made up mostly of bamboo, red pandas are not closely related to their better-known shared namesakes, the giant pandas. Red pandas, which are native to the Himalayas in Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, northeastern India, and southern China, are classified as Endangered by the Institute for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Primary threats include habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from deforestation. Zoo Atlanta has supported the Red Panda Network in a conservation initiative to restore red panda habitat in western Nepal through the Zoo’s Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.

Zoo Atlanta is open daily with new protocols and procedures in place to promote wellness and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include timed ticketing (tickets must be purchased online in advance); a largely one-way experience through the Zoo; hand-sanitizing stations throughout grounds; and signage and other aids to encourage social distancing. Masks are currently required for general admission for all guests over the age of 10. Certain optional paid experiences, including giraffe feeding, the Endangered Species Carousel, and Zoo train, require masks for all guests ages 2 and up. Learn more or plan a visit on zooatlanta.org.

 

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