Red panda baby loves her lookalike cuddly toy

Red panda baby loves her lookalike cuddly toy

A red panda cub is making a remarkable recovery at Taronga Zoo with the help of a surrogate mum and a cuddly soft toy.

Taronga keeper Tamara Gillies is providing round-the-clock care to the two-month-old cub after it sustained a neck injury while being carried in its mother's mouth.

See also: What gives this baby red panda the shock of its life?

See also: Red panda shows off pull=up skills


The female cub, who keepers have named Maiya, is now thriving thanks to daily veterinary care and regular bottle feeds from Tamara.

"She's definitely a little survivor," said Tamara. "She's guzzling down her milk formula, she's gaining weight every day and the wound on her neck has almost completely healed."

The cub has also found a fluffy new friend in the form of a soft toy red panda, which she clings to while feeding and sleeping.

Red panda baby loves her lookalike cuddly toy

"The soft toy gives her something with a familiar scent to snuggle and play with. It's the same colour as a real red panda and she clings to it using her claws and teeth as she would do with her mum," said Tamara.

Maiya, whose name means "little girl" in Nepali, was born at Taronga on 20 November to first-time parents Amala and Pabu. The cub spent her first five weeks in mother Amala's care before keepers made the difficult decision to intervene.

"It was a hard choice as we'd always prefer for a cub to be raised by its mother. Amala was doing an amazing job for a first-time mum. She was very attentive and we observed all the right suckling and grooming behaviours, but unfortunately the injury to the cub's neck required urgent veterinary care," said Tamara.

Tamara said it's not uncommon for red panda cubs to experience neck wounds as mothers often carry their young by the scruff of the neck.

Red panda baby loves her lookalike cuddly toy

Maiya will remain in Tamara's constant care for at least another month, but keepers are already taking steps to gradually reintroduce the cub to her parents. Tamara feeds Maiya in Taronga's Red Panda exhibit each morning to allow the parents to see and smell the cub.

"We're confident that we can reintegrate Maiya with her parents in the coming months. We're very lucky that she had her first five weeks with mum and received the important colostrum in her mother's milk," said Tamara.

"It's good for her to be comfortable around us, but we want her to maintain the natural behaviours of a red panda and hopefully grow up to raise cubs of her own."

Classed as endangered, red pandas are under threat from habitat loss, illegal trade and poaching throughout their natural range in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar and Nepal. Fewer than 10,000 red pandas are thought to remain in the wild.

You can support Taronga's conservation efforts by adopting a red panda at taronga.org.au.

12 PHOTOS
Baby zoo animals around the world
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Baby zoo animals around the world

These babies, named Sri Kandi (left) and Arjuna (right) were born at Tierpark, Berlin, Germany. They made their debut on 5 March 2012.

Clinging to his mum, baby Changi meets his public  for the first time at Krefeld Zoo, Germany.

This little rhino, named Male, was born in January. He's pictured here with his mother, Mana, at Magdeburg Zoo, Germany.

The zoo at Tierpark in Berlin celebrated the birth of a litter of four dingo babies in January.

Only a few days old, this baby giraffe, named Kimarle, peaks out from her enclosure at the ZOOM Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. The 170cm tall giraffe was born on March 9.

A one-month-old baby squirrel monkey clings to its mother's back at Qingdao Forest Wildlife Park, China.

A two-week old baby gorilla is cuddled by her mum, Mumba, a Western Lowland Gorilla, at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, Kent.

Born at Cincinnati Zoo,  US, this one-month old hedgehog is being hand reared by keepers until it is old enough to be included in the zoo's outreach programme.

Ludwig the baby elephant is clearly happy to be out and about at the Tierpark Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich.

These cuties were born in February at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

This cub was born prematurely at Toronto Zoo. His mum rejected him soon after he was born, so he was cared for by staff at the zoo. Here he is making his debut in February.

This six-month old baby Western Lowland Gorilla is seen here enjoying the spring sunshine with her mother at Dublin Zoo.

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