Twin red panda cubs have made their public debut at Melbourne Zoo, much to our excitement.
The cubs were on display briefly while Dr. Christina Cheng vaccinated them against feline enteritis and two forms of feline respiratory disease, the zoo reports. They were also microchipped in order to keep a record of the twins’ health.
The 3-month-old cubs are both male, and their keepers were very excited to finally name them — and their names have special significance.
Paying homage to the breed’s origin in Nepal, where their natural habitat is found, keepers named the cubs Mandu, which is short for Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu, and Keta, which means means “boy” in Nepalese.
Nepalese red pandas are found in dense forests and bamboo thickets of remote mountain areas in Nepal, China, India, Bhutan and Burma, the zoo reports. Red pandas are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with their numbers in the wild drastically decreasing. According to the zoo, one of the biggest problems red pandas face in the wild is the destruction of their natural habitat, driven by human development. However, hunting has also presented an issue, although it’s illegal in all counties.
Both Mandu and Keta are doing well, weighing in at 853 grams and 815 grams respectively. After their checkup, they were returned to their nesting boxes, where they will spend most of their time.
“This is consistent with the way this species behaves in the wild, with tree hollows being the most common nesting site in the remote high-altitude bamboo forests of the Himalayas,” the zoo states.
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Red pandas are born blind and helpless, and they usually stay under the care of their mothers until they are 5 months old. Both Keta and Mandu are currently being taken care of by their mother, Roshani.
If you want to see more of these cuties, then check out the den footage showing highlights of their development over the last few months — it is impossible not to fall in love.