Endangered red panda gives birth at UK wildlife park

An endangered red panda has given birth to a miracle cub at a UK wildlife park just months after the devastating passing of her partner.

Tilly gave birth for the first time in eight years to a healthy cub in the early hours of July 16, one of the hottest days in UK history, at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.

The zoo's CCTV cameras captured the incredible moment when the cub - currently being called ‘little red’ until they are old enough to have their first health checks by the vet in the upcoming months, which will also determine their sex - was born.

The birth follows the heartbreaking death of Tilly's partner and the father of 'little red' Nam Pang in June, creating a lasting legacy in his honour.

The couple were part of the zoo's international breeding programme but had struggled to conceive over the past four years of being together.

Fans of the pair have sent messages of support and love to Tilly from across the world, as well as concern for how she is coping.

Red pandas are naturally solitary animals, but the keepers wanted to ensure that she continued to be comfortable and happy on her own after the passing of her partner.

It was while watching her closely that keepers noticed two weeks after his death that she had poignantly begun to nest in preparation for the upcoming newborn.

During morning checks, Tilly’s keepers noticed a small furry addition laying next to her in the nest box.

The cub is still very vulnerable up to six months old but is growing well.

The Hertfordshire zoo is part of the European Ex-Situ Breeding Programme to help create a safety net for endangered species in the wild.

Red pandas are classed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, with around less than 2,500 remaining in the wild.