The arrival of a pair of Red Pandas named Ginger and Bruce at the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo bodes well for the endangered species' future.

Red Panda Pair Anchors Endangered Species Program At Scottish Zoo

Exotic and endangered Red Pandas have been missing from the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo for the last eight years but now, thanks to players of the People's Postcode Lottery, the zoo is excited to welcome a brand new pair of breeding-age Red Pandas. “We are delighted to have red pandas back at the Zoo,” states Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.

Bruce (above) and Ginger (below), as they've been named, are currently being housed in side-by-side enclosures within their larger co-habitat. Bruce (the male) actually arrived last year; Ginger (his future paramour) arrived from a facility in the Netherlands just a few days ago. Once both red pandas seem comfortable with their surroundings and with one another, zoo staff will set a carefully considered introduction plan into motion.

Red Panda Pair Anchors Endangered Species Program At Scottish Zoo

It's hoped the panda pair will get along well – more than well, if you know what we mean (and we think you do). There are only about 10,000 red pandas left in the wild (some estimates are as low as 2,500) and the IUCN Red List rates them as “endangered”. Giant Pandas, in contrast, have recently moved up from “endangered” to “vulnerable” thanks, in part, to successful conservation efforts on their behalf.

Red panda populations in their native range – the temperate forests of the Himalayas – are on the decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and accidental trapping. As a registered conservation charity, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) contributes annual species support payments to the Red Panda Network's Forest Guardian Support Program; set up to protect wild red pandas in their native habitats.

Red Panda Pair Anchors Endangered Species Program At Scottish Zoo

Visitors to the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo will certainly be excited to see red pandas again but Bruce and Ginger's presence serves a more important purpose: conserving this rare and threatened species. “Through the European Endangered Species Programme we hope to breed Bruce and Ginger,” explains McGarry, “creating a safety-net population which will ensure they do not become extinct in the wild."

“We've already seen how conservation efforts have helped increase the giant panda population,” adds McGarry, “so we hope to be able to do the same for other species such as the red panda.”

Red Panda Pair Anchors Endangered Species Program At Scottish Zoo

All of this would not be possible but for the participation of the People's Postcode Lottery. A donation of £25,000 in 2016 allowed the RZSS to create the new red panda enclosure and bring Bruce and Ginger to the Zoo.

“As People's Postcode Lottery continues to grow, the amount that our players award to good causes continues to increase,” explained Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery. “We are very proud that our players can continue to support the development of fantastic causes, including the new red panda enclosure at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.” (via WENN)