Ember and Hammy, two charming red pandas at the Lee Richardson Zoo, got to explore their newly remodeled exhibit on the morning of June 26th, and they seemed to approve of their new digs. The zoo’s breeding pair of pandas were given access to the large grassy yard which is dotted with numerous boulders, perches, climbing logs, and a pond. Hammy was so excited he loped around the yard, running donuts around a giant pile of boulders and checking out the view from each of the different logs and perches. Ember, who we believe is pregnant, was a little more reserved in her investigations. She traversed a few logs and stopped for a snack when she discovered a stash of bamboo left by her keepers. Once the bamboo was devoured, she retreated to the air-conditioned comfort of her den.
Not ones to tolerate heat well, Red pandas inhabit mountainous forests of the Himalayan mountains where winter reigns for up to nine months of the year. For their health and comfort, the pandas have access to their yard as well as their cooler den. During the summer, visitors hoping to see the pair should plan a morning visit when temperatures are cooler. Keepers usually let them out around 9 AM. The new panda exhibit (formerly displaying lion-tailed macaques) is located inside Wild Asia on the west side by the plaza. The zoo’s third panda, Firecracker, who turned twenty-two on July 3rd, can be viewed just inside the Wild Asia Moongate entrance, usually snoozing in his outdoor den box if he’s not inside in the AC. Maintaining a much more leisurely pace than Hammy, Firecracker is the oldest living red panda known nationwide. Red panda’s typically live about 14 years, with the former longevity record being just over 19 years.