“They’re two little baby red pandas and they’re absolutely adorable,” said zoologist Ewa Wikberg from the Nordens Ark wildlife park to The Local.
“But the veterinarian hasn’t come to checked them out yet, so we still don’t know if they’re boys or girls.”
Nordens Ark, which is situated some 80 kilometres north of Gothenburg in Sweden’s west, hasn’t had a panda birth for five years, which makes the event “even more special”.
Wikberg explained that the pandas, which were born in late June, are still blind, though are expected to open their eyes soon.
“There’s been a really positive reaction so far, both from our visitors and on the telephone. These pandas have got more attention than anything else we’ve ever had at the park,” Wikberg explained.
The red panda, also known as the lesser panda, exists in 85 European animal parks and these two mark the 14th and 15th that have arrived at the Swedish park since it opened in 1989.
“In all of Europe and Russia, there were only eight litters last year, so we’re really excited that these two were born here in Sweden,” Wikberg said.
The pandas are being bred in correlation with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) which is fighting to preserve the population of the lesser panda in the Indian wild and has been running since 1996.
Even though Wikberg explains that the knowledge about pandas in captivity is large, very little is known about their habits in the wild.
The EEP has sent several pandas to India for release into the while since the programme’s inception, all of which have been trained to survive in the wild.
However, the public will have to wait to get a glimpse of these two tiny pandas, as they will not be on display until the mother is ready to let them out of the den.
“It mostly depends on how protective the mother is and we’ve never seen her ‘motherly personality’ before, so we can’t be sure,” Wikberg told The Local.
“But it also depends on how pushy the babies are. If they are bossy and ready to explore, we can expect them on show by mid-August.”