Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 18:06 UK

Red Panda leaves her island home

Maggie the Red Panda
Maggie is part of the European Breeding Scheme

A two-year-old Red Panda that "touched the hearts of local visitors" has left her home on the Isle of Man.

Maggie, who was orphaned when she was just one-month-old, has arrived at the Whipsnade Zoo in Luton so she can be paired off for breeding purposes.

Hand-reared by a keeper at Curraghs Wildlife Park on the island, her only family have been the staff at the animal sanctuary.

Wildlife park owner, Nick Pinter said she made a "big impact on the park".

The panda, one of just 30,000 worldwide, was orphaned when her mother died of bone cancer just over two years ago.

Endangered species

Maggie attracted visitors from across the world, who watched as she followed her keeper around the park.

Mr Pinter said: "She is part of the European Breeding Programme which is aimed at stopping these pandas from going extinct.

"She was born here, after her mother who came from Nepal gave birth to her two years ago.

"Many local people would visit the park time and time again, she had touched their hearts.

"Maggie will be used for breeding in Luton, this is the prime age for her."

The Red Panda is currently listed as an endangered species because its natural habitat are rainforests which are rapidly disappearing.



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