‘Panda’monium as red pandas are born at Longleat

A rare set of red panda twins has been born at Longleat in Wiltshire.

It is only the second time the species, which is endangered in the wild, has bred successfully at the wildlife attraction.

Twin red panda births are extremely rare and keepers are delighted with the pair’s progress.

The pandas’ parents are a key factor in the ongoing success of the European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda, thanks to their diverse genetics.

Dad Ajenda, which means ‘King of the mountain’, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012 and mum Rufina, meaning ‘Red-haired’, arrived from Italy a year later.

Keeper Sam Allworthy said: “We’re delighted with how well Rufina is looking after the young cubs and both mother and babies are doing brilliantly.”

Like the giant pandas – their famous, but unrelated, namesakes – red pandas remain under threat in the wild.

Found in Nepal, Bhutan and China, they live among bamboo forests and spend much of their time in trees.

• The attraction is preparing for a busy autumn and winter season, with the Halloween Festival (October 22-30) and firework displays (October 27-29).

It will close its year of celebrations marking its 50th anniversary with a new theme for its annual Festival of Light (November 11-January 2, 2017).

longleat.co.uk