Kathmandu Zoo Receives Unexpected Visitor – First Red Panda in 24 Years!

It has been 24 years since the Kathmandu Zoo has received a red panda. The Kathmandu Zoo, the only zoo in Nepal, also known as Central Zoo (Sadar Chidiyakhana, in the Jawalakhel part of Kathmandu) or Patan Zoo (after the Lalitpur area of the city it is in), lucked out on 10 March 2013, when an injured and critically ill red panda was brought to the zoo for help – or should we say the red panda lucked out! The red panda was fighting for life when spotted by the staff of the district forest office at Churchure VDC-2 in Ramechhap district, according to Nepal Republic Media.

Road to recovery… While the red panda’s condition has been improving, Dr. Balkrishna Giri – chief of wildlife rescue at the zoo – fears that the red panda was chased or tormented by people, as it remains skittish around humans. The zoo has been keeping the panda off public display while it’s in recovery. Under special care, the red panda is receiving antibiotics and is being fed apples, eggs, and leafs, with increasing food variety as its health and activity improves. However, the red panda is still underweight at 2.7 kilograms (6 lbs); in comparison an average red panda weighs 5-9kg (12-20 lbs). The zoo and veterinary staff continue to monitor the red panda and its treatment carefully, as the species’ care is new to this team.

Temperature raises concerns… As the temperature climbs in Kathmandu Zoo, the zoo staff is worried about the well being of the red panda, as they do not do well in extreme heat (>25 Celsius/77 Fahrenheit). Unfortunately, the zoo does not have an appropriate red panda habitat, being without a red panda since 1989, and the climate-control is very expensive and has been unreliable with the frequent power outages. “When the panda was brought here, it was not in a position to move around as it was seriously ill. It is in a much better shape now. But the challenge now is that we cannot ensure suitable temperature for it,” reports Dr Balkrishna Giri via a follow-up article in the Nepal Republic Media, “we are working to build proper tree shed for the panda.” While Kathmandu employees have discussed releasing the panda into its natural habitat, they are unable to ensure a successful outcome until it has recovered from its illness. In the meantime, the zoo is building a roofed enclosure for the red panda that is surrounded by trees for shade. While there are other animals inhabitants in the zoo that require extra care during the summer, the staff recognizes that the red panda’s case demands special attention.

After the red panda recovers, zoo staff will conduct a meeting to decide where to keep the panda, whether it be Kathmandu Zoo or another suitable place. For now, the caregivers remain very hopeful about the red panda’s path to recovery.

We can do it! The Red Panda Network is regularly meeting with Zoo officials to help ensure that the red panda survives and thrives. Want to show your support and provide care for the red panda? We’re are now accepting donations here » Please mention ‘Kathmandu red panda’ on the questionnaire after payment.