EDMONTON - A red panda raised by hand at the Edmonton Valley Zoo is successfully raising a baby of her own.
The female cub was born Aug. 1 and is named Qiji (CHEE'-chee), which means "miracle" in Mandarin.
Qiji’s mother Pip was born at the zoo in May 2008 but had to be taken away from her mother who was over-grooming her.
Despite being hand-raised, Pip's instincts kicked in.
The zoo says she's taking excellent care of her baby.
Zoo staff continue to monitor the cub while giving Pip the time and space she needs to gain confidence as a new mother.
“The fact that Pip, who was hand-raised, has naturally taken to mothering is a huge success for our red panda breeding program,” said animal care team leader Sandy Helliker, who looked after Pip when she was a youngster.
Helliker is an international expert on red pandas and has hand-raised seven of them. "Mothering" involves several months of round-the-clock care that includes feeding, cleaning and supervising.
Qiji weighed 135 grams at birth and is now a healthy 710 grams. Her father Ralphie came to Edmonton in 2009 from Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.
Qiji is the eighth red panda born at the Edmonton Valley Zoo since 2004.
The public can see Pip and Qiji through a viewing window in their enclosure. Visitors are encouraged to record any observations they make in a special book beside the window.
Red Pandas are native to the temperate boreal forests of the Himalayas, the high mountains of northern Myanmar and the western provinces of China. Their reddish-brown markings and white faces allow them to blend in with clumps of dirt, moss and stumps covered with lichen.
Deforestation is the greatest threat to red pandas which eat mainly bamboo. As the forests are destroyed by human encroachment, the red pandas are left without food and habitat.