The Birmingham Zoo is proud to welcome two red panda cubs to our Zoo family. Gizmo and Kodo, the cub’s parents, were recommended to breed as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP). As an AZA-accredited member, the Birmingham Zoo joins other AZA facilities in participating in SSP Programs to support cooperative breeding and species management. This is both Kodo and Gizmo’s first time as parents and their two cubs were born on May 31st.
Our male red panda, Gizmo, joined the Birmingham Zoo in 2020 from the Sacramento Zoo, and our female red panda, Kodo, arrived in the spring of 2022 from the Buttonwood Park Zoo. Both zoos are AZA Accredited. Red pandas’ breeding season runs from January to March each year, so this was the first breeding season the pair was together.
“This success with our red pandas is the culmination of coordinated efforts from our entire zoo team over the past few years, starting with Gizmo’s arrival in 2020.” explains Scott Kayser, Zoological Manager of Predators. “While Kodo is a first-time mother, she has been a natural since day one and both cubs are doing well. We are all beyond excited for our new additions and look forward to sharing them with everyone!”
After examinations confirmed Kodo’s pregnancy earlier this year, the Predator Animal Care Team started preparing for the arrival of the cubs. This included organizing three separate spaces behind-the-scenes for Kodo to start nesting in preparation for her cubs. Kodo and the cubs have been adjusting well and the Animal Care Team is monitoring them via 24-hour camera feeds. The team has been able to perform a neonatal exam and has determined that both cubs are male and in good health. The team will encourage Kodo to continue to provide care for the cubs.
“We are so proud of Kodo for taking such good care of her cubs. You never know for sure with first-time moms, but her maternal instincts kicked right in and she has been a very attentive mother” says Birmingham Zoo General Curator, Mollye Nardi.
For the first few months, the cubs will not be visible to guests and Kodo will likely remain behind the scenes in her nest boxes where it is quieter and private. The Birmingham Zoo follows AZA standards for health and wellbeing, and animals are often given choice on where they want to spend time. Gizmo has been moved to a behind-the-scenes area in the Zoo and will remain separate during this adjustment period, giving Kodo time and space to care for the cubs. In the wild, red pandas are solitary animals and will come together for breeding, but after they have mated, the male usually separates form the female and her cubs.
“Birmingham Zoo is passionate about educating our guests on the importance of conserving red pandas and other endangered species found around the world,” explains Chris Pfefferkorn, Birmingham Zoo President and CEO. “We are proud to continue our strong commitment to the AZA SSP, for the sustainability of red pandas. We are also proud of the work we do for red panda conservation, including our partnership with the Red Panda Network, which works to protect the remaining 2,500 red pandas currently in the wild.”
While the red panda family may not be visible for the next few months, the Birmingham Zoo will be providing updates on the health and development of our new Zoo babies this season.