Longleat Safari Park has issued an update on a pair of rare red pandas which were born in June as part of an international breeding programme for the endangered species.
The two males were born at the safari park near Warminster at the end of June and are developing well and hitting key milestones thanks to the care and attention of mum Emma.
Both Emma and dad Lionel are considered critically important members of the European Endangered Species Programme for the red panda due to their diverse genetics.
Their keeper Samantha Peeke said: “Every animal birth is always special and exciting, but breeding an endangered species is an incredible thing to be part of.
“As the cubs grow, they will go on to join the endangered species breeding programme and help ensure the survival of their species.
“Whilst they are young, they spend most of their time inside one of the nest boxes in the enclosure, where Emma feeds and cleans them,” she added.
As they mature, the cubs will start to get braver and explore the outside world under the watchful eye of mum Emma and expert keepers at Longleat.
Keepers check on the cubs throughout the day and monitor Emma closely, adapting her diet and environment as needed to ensure she has everything she needs to look after them.
The twins are also regularly weighed to ensure their continued growth and development.
Longleat has extensive experience of looking after and breeding red pandas, with six previous cubs having been successfully reared at the park, all of which have gone on to join breeding programmes at other collections across Europe.
The red panda is officially recognised as endangered in the wild, meaning the species faces a high risk of extinction in the near future.
Numbers are thought to be as low as 2,500 in the wild. They are endangered due to deforestation and habitat loss as well as poaching and the illegal pet trade.
Red pandas are carnivores, but their natural diet consists mostly of bamboo, each red panda can eat 20,000 bamboo leaves a day in the wild.
Longleat has its own bamboo plantation to provide a regular supply of fresh bamboo leaves, replicating their wild diet as closely as possible.
In addition to being part of the European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda, Longleat is also helping to fund habitat restoration and replanting projects in Nepal.