Newborn small panda twins
Giant pandas are most-liked animals of the world although their namesakes, the red pandas who are also called small pandas, are similarly cute animals.
Their face is very much like of the giant panda’s with whom it shares much of its habitat.
The birth of an animal baby is always a special occasion in a zoo but in case of such cute twins who are even endangered animals it is an even bigger pleasure. The red panda parents of Nyíregyháza have been living together for two years within the framework of the European Species Protection Program. Ting-ting arrived to Nyíregyháza from Bratislava while Sichuan came from Dublin Zoo. Their reproduction is a great event also because they rarely breed in captivity.
The species (Ailurus fulgens) can be found at high altitude forests of the Himalayas and Norther Burma, the western part of Sichuan and Yunnanat an elevation of 2000-4800 meters.
Fur of the red panda consists of long and coarse upper hairs and dense undercoat keeping the animal warm and dry in its cold and wet habitat.
At present, there are nearly 10000 red pandas living in the wild. Their number has declined by about 40 % over the last 50 years primarily due to habitat loss and poaching. In Nepal, for example, they were hunted for their fur to make cap of it. In China, their tail was used as a broom.
Although they belong to the order Carnivora, they are feeding mainly on bamboo but eat sometimes also eggs, insects, chicks and small mammals.
They are active at night and spend the day sleeping while curled up among tree branches. They mark their territory with their faecal, urine and substance from the scent glands at the rectum.
The eye of the cubs who are now 5 weeks old were closed in the first few weeks and they spent most of their time lying in their den. Their eyes opened this week and their fur is getting more reddish from day to day. After their birth, Ting-ting, the mother was almost all day in the den with them. For now, she leaves the den more times a day but returns to nurse and clean them. Today, the cubs went through a veterinary examination which revealed that both of them are females.
In the 19th century, the name panda referred only to the red bear-cat. The English word may originate from the Nepalese name of the animal which is punja coming from the expression nigalja punja meaning bamboo eater. The name small panda was to distinguish the animal from the giant panda which was discovered later and has been named also as panda because the two species was thought to be relatives.
The expression of the red bear-cat refers to the bear-like appearance of the animal while it can climb on trees just as good as cats with the help of its partly retractable claws. It also cleans itself by licking like cats do. Similarly to the giant panda, it has six fingers on its foreleg. The sixth finger is the enlargement of the wrist bone and is opposable to the other fingers by which red panda can easily grasp bamboo shoots.
A new spectacle in Sóstó Zoo
From 20 June 2016, visitors can enter the renewed lemur forest where new curiosities, the Mayotte monkeys can be seen.
The biggest fascination of Sóstó Zoo may be that animals of the World are exhibited in natural enclosures within an oak forest. Besides the special programs like seal and parrot show, the lemur forest is attended the most where brave visitors can have a walk among prosimians.
In addition to the lemur forest of the Tarzan trail where ring-tailed lemurs known from the film Madagascar can be visited, the older monkey forest was rebuilt and altered this year in a way that primate lovers can get to know the brown-furred Mayotte lemurs.
The scientific name of the species (Lemur fulvus mayottensis) tells a lot since they are named mayottensis after their natural habitat at the Mayotte island situated at about 400 kilometres from Madagascar. The genus name, lemur, is from the Latin word lemurs meaning “spirits of the dead” because the first European discoverers thought them and the other lemurs to be ghosts hearing only their loud calls and seeing their yellow eyes in the darkness of the forest. Lemurs are real acrobats, they move among tree branches easily not being afraid of getting from one tree to another by big jumps. They feed primarily on fruits but sometimes eat flowers, nectars, leaves and seeds. The breeding group which is the only one in the country is really successful. A baby was born again last year with whom the group number increased to six.
The specialty of the rebuilt forest is that monkeys live together with big terrestrial reptiles, the African Sulcata Tortoises. In addition, the biggest terrestrial mammals of the world, African elephants can be seen by looking out from the forest to the neighbouring enclosure where the youngest member of the elephant group, Kito celebrates its first birthday this week.
The forest can be approached from the Tropical house passing by the palm trees of the also renewed Mediterranean garden where the special pomegranate, the currently yielding citrus plants like citron, orange and mandarin and also bougainvillea and Chinese oleander can be observed.
Biodiversity day in Sóstó Zoo
Entertaining tasks, planting and interactive programs waited for adults and children in Sóstó Zoo on the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day.
The attention was driven to the variety of living creatures (biodiversity) and the risks threatening it because biodiversity – the variety of species – is in danger. Everybody heard already about the threats to tropical rain forests or coral reefs but this day the main emphasis was put on to get acquainted with the living world surrounding us. Native plant and animal species of Europe are also seriously endangered due to urbanisation and increasing intensity of agriculture.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria initiates awareness raising and fund collection campaigns in the field of nature conservation since 2000.
This year, Sóstó Zoo joins the 2 year long “Let it grow” campaign and therefore its educational activity is focused on animals and plants living in people’s direct vicinity. In the frame of it, visitors could get to know the secrets of native plant and animal kingdom and could get a view of the hidden life of reptiles and amphibians of Hungary and secrets of the birds living next to us.
The techniques of basket and cornhusk doll making could be studied and the meaning of wasp garage was explained.
On this special day, the work of the instructors was helped by the local branch office of the Hungarian Bird and Nature Conservation Association, the Amphibian and Reptile Protection Department, Nyíregyháza Forestry of Nyírerdő Zrt. and the ethnographic Kiss family.
Planting was part of the program and the plants could be taken home while tree species of the Hungarian forests were shown for the people interested.
The bird of the year, the landrail was presented and tree of the year which is Field Elm in 2016 has been planted at the educational trail of the zoo by the children and the foresters together just as it is done every year.