Baby Red Panda Born at the Memphis Zoo
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Baby Red Panda Born at the Memphis Zoo

MEMPHIS, TENN. – Zookeepers at the Memphis Zoo recently welcomed the first red panda cub since 2005. “Justin” was born July 1 to parents “Ryo” and “Pele.”   The bouncing baby boy was born on exhibit in The Commercial Appeal Cat Country.

Because his mother was unable to properly care for him, within a week animal staff moved Justin to the hospital where he is being hand-reared.   “He’s doing well,” said Dr. Felicia Knightly, the Memphis Zoo Senior Veterinarian.“He’s taken to the bottle, and is growing rapidly.”  

Justin is currently being bottle fed in the hospital, and will be for another month. Hospital staff will begin to wean him off the bottle by making a gruel-like mix of milk and a thickening agent of a leaf-eater biscuit, something adult red pandas get in their daily diet here at the Memphis Zoo. Once he’s taken to the gruel mix, he’ll be weaned off the bottle completely by eating the mixture in a bowl.  

His parents, Ryo and Pele are on exhibit. Zoo staff will determine when Justin can be seen in Cat Country.

Photos can be seen on the Zoo’s Facebook page. 

“We are very excited about the birth of Justin,” Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs said. “Red pandas are endangered. There are some estimates that put the number of adult red pandas in the wild around 2,500. Justin has a very favorable genetic lineage, and we’re hopeful that he’ll be one of many red panda cubs born here at the Memphis Zoo.”  

Red pandas, once thought to be related to Giant Pandas, are actually related to raccoons. These nocturnal animals are tree dwellers, and have a large, bushy tail to help balance them while climbing high in the trees in their exhibit. Generally found in the Himalayas, their range overlaps some with that of Giant Pandas.    

For more information and updated photos and videos of Justin, visit    

About the Memphis Zoo Red Pandas
The Memphis Zoo is home to three adult red pandas, Ryo, Pele and Pistol Pete. Ryo and Pele can be found in the The Commercial Appeal Cat Country high in the trees in their exhibit. Pistol Pete is on exhibit in CHINA during the winter months. The Memphis Zoo has kept red pandas in the collection since 1994, a year after Cat Country opened.   Pele, the female, was born at the Memphis Zoo on June 12, 2005. Owned by the Omaha Zoo, she was given to the Memphis Zoo to be raised here. Ryo is the newest adult addition to The Commercial Appeal Cat Country red panda enclosure. He was brought to the Memphis Zoo in November of 2010 from the Oklahoma City Zoo as part of a SSP breeding recommendation. Pistol Pete came to the Zoo in April of 2012.  

About the Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tenn., is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Recently named as one of the top five zoos in the country by TripAdvisor®, the Memphis Zoo has completed over $93 million in renovation and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo's animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as Once Upon A Farm, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek and CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le. The Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.   ###  

Posted by Zoo Info at 1:45 PM