This past summer the Denver Zoo was keeping a little secret. Well, actually it was two little secrets. On September 29th they announced that twin baby red pandas had been born a month earlier to Faith and Hamlet, the adult red pandas living at the facility. They are absolutely adorable and they have taken the hearts of Coloradoans with their cuteness -- and their dilemma. 

Red Panda Cubs at the Denver Zoo
Red Panda Cubs at the Denver Zoo

Image via 9News

The two little boy cubs were born at the zoo on August 27 and spent those first weeks cuddled up with Mom behind the scenes in a nest box. As expected they were doing well and growing fast.

It is customary for the zoo to wait awhile before announcing some births just to make sure that both the parents and the babies are okay.

Red Panda
Red Panda

Image via Denver Zoo

It wasn't until after the announcement of the blessed event that a problem arose. At routine weigh-ins it was discovered that the cubs were not gaining the weight that they should be. In fact they had started to lose weight.

It turned out that Faith had stopped producing milk and the little guys were starving. The veterinarians wanted to give her every possibility of taking care of the cubs herself, but it was clear that they needed help. A regimen of five bottle feedings a day was begun.

Red Panda Cubs at the Denver Zoo
Red Panda Cubs at the Denver Zoo

Image via 9News

Apparently poor milk production is a known factor with red panda mothers. Faith also had trouble coming up with enough milk for her previous litter, Lali and Masu, who were born in June 2016. Those two are now living at other zoos.

Red Panda Cub Feeding Time
Red Panda Cub Feeding Time

Image via Facebook

Red pandas are native to Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. They are big eaters and consume about 45% of their body weight every day. That amounts to about 200,000 bamboo leaves a day. While they may be active during the day, red pandas are mainly crepuscular. That means that they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Red Panda Cub Feeding Time
Red Panda Cub Feeding Time

Image via Facebook

There are only about 2500 red pandas left in the wild. Their status is endangered due to habitat loss from deforestation and illegal hunting for their pelts. The red panda is more closely related to weasels, raccoons, and skunks than it is to the giant panda. The red panda is also known as the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, the red cat-bear, and the firefox. It is believed that the Firefox internet browser was named for these animals.

The cubs at the Denver Zoo have not been named yet and they will not be available for viewing until they are old enough to join their parents in the red panda enclosure.

Sources: 9News, Denver Post, Wikipedia, Denver Zoo

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