First red panda cub born at West Midlands Safari Park

A rare red panda cub has been born at West Midlands Safari Park for the first time in its 50-year history.

Keepers suspected that three-year-old red panda Mei Lin, was due to give birth after seeing her settle into one of her nest boxes mid-June.

A few days later, on 16 June, keepers heard tiny squeaks coming from the box and noticed that Mei Lin was grooming something inside.

Discovery Trail Keeper, Kyle Wingfield, said: “This is both a hugely exciting, but also nerve-wracking time for us. It’s fantastic that Mei Lin and our male, Sanka, have successfully mated, after only being introduced just over a year ago.

"After a gestation period of four and a half months, the cub arrived, making it the first red panda cub we’ve ever had at the Park in our 50-year history. Whilst this is incredible news, it’s also important to remember that this is Mei Lin’s first time at being a mum and she is doing a great job so far, but it is still very early days.”

He continued: “Red pandas are listed as ‘endangered’ in the wild with fewer than ten thousand individuals left, making every birth that more important. Whilst things look promising so far, with Mei Lin showing all the right, maternal signs, we will continue to monitor her from a safe distance allowing her the space, privacy and time she needs, as she adapts to being a new mum.”

When the cub is around three months old, keepers will perform a health check and will find out what sex it is - while keeping a close eye on it until then.

It’s at this point where a name will be chosen for the cub, beginning with the letter ‘L’, as all animals born at the Park in 2023, have names beginning with this letter.

Mei Lin was the first red panda to arrive at the Park in August 2021 and was joined by male, Sanka, in March 2022 as part of an EEP (Eaza Ex-Situ Programme), which is a collaborative breeding programme between European zoos, aiming to conserve endangered species.