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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Zoo birth of rare panda
red panda
Cub will remain in isolation with mother for a month
A rare red panda has been born at a zoo in the US state of North Dakota.

The cub and its mother, called Tsaka, will remain in isolation for about a month at the River Red Zoo in the city of Fargo.

Known for its soft chestnut-red fur, white mask and long, bushy tail, the red panda resembles a racoon in size and appearance.

Red pandas are native to the Himalayas and the remote bamboo forests of southern China.

Declining population

There is increasing evidence that the red panda is rare and is continuing to decline.

Red panda facts
Between 2,000 - 3,000 in the wild
Eats mainly bamboo
Threatened by deforestation and poaching
Fur hat considered lucky by newly weds
It has already become extinct in 4 of the 7 Chinese provinces in which it was previously found.

There are only two or three thousand still alive in the wild; about 50 of the animals live in zoos in the Western Hemisphere.

The major threats to red pandas are deforestation, and poaching for the pet and fur trades. In China, the fur is used to make hats and clothing.

In Yunnan Province, the hat, with its long, luxurious tail at the back, is desired by newlyweds because it is regarded as a talisman for a happy marriage.

The red panda's diet is unusual as it eats mostly bamboo leaves. But it will supplement this diet with berries, mushrooms, grasses and bark.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Prudish pandas turn to Viagra
24 Dec 99 | Sci/Tech
Clone hope to save panda
24 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Oldest captive panda dies
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