LANSING, Mich. — Mahlia and Deagan-Reid, the red pandas at Potter Park Zoo, welcomed two cubs on July 4.
When the cubs are born, they're about the size of kittens, according to Zookeeper Liz Jagenow. The first cub weighed just over four ounces, and the second just under five.
The cubs are resting in an off-exhibit nest box under their mother's care.
When red pandas are born, they're blind and deaf, but in a couple of weeks, the cubs should be able to open their eyes and start to hear.
Jagenow said zoo staff hasn't verified whether the cubs are male or female.
"As they get older, it's a little bit easier to verify gender as their genitalia develops. It's a little bit harder when they're young," she said.
As far as names, they don't have them yet.
Sometimes zookeepers get to name animals born at the zoo or they will choose a couple of names and the public gets to help. Jagenow is unsure which way they're going to go at this time.
The zoo will have the cubs for at least eight months and then they will move to another institution, but they don't know which one yet.
"That's all up to the species survival plan. They kind of move pandas around based on breeding requirements and based on holding situations," Jagenow said.
Red pandas are endangered according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology institute.
Scientists believe their population has declined by more than half over the last 20 years and estimate there may only be 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild.
This isn't Mahlia's first pregnancy. She had two cubs, a boy, and a girl, back on July 2 of 2016, with a different male.
Zoo visitors should see the new cubs and Mahlia out on the exhibit around October.
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