Newborn red panda cub at Sacramento Zoo fighting to survive

Red panda pregnancy confirmation

The Sacramento Zoo confirms that Pili is pregnant with a cub. The cub was born Monday.
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The Sacramento Zoo confirms that Pili is pregnant with a cub. The cub was born Monday.

There's a new furry face at the Sacramento Zoo. A red panda cub was born to parents Pili and Takeo on Monday, according to a zoo news release.

But the cub isn't out of the woods yet – her 7-year-old mother quickly began exhibiting neglectful behavior, according to the news release, including leaving her unattended toward the outside of her den. Staff took over and began raising the cub in the intensive care unit of the zoo's veterinary hospital. Now, the cub, which doesn't yet have a name, is dependent on humans to survive.

"Allowing a red panda mother to attentively care for her cub is optimal in most cases, but when factors including maternal neglect are observed, it is important for animal care staff to intervene," the zoo said.

On Tuesday, the cub weighed less than 4 ounces and was hypothermic, but her temperature has since returned to normal. She will be cared for in an incubator for the next few months, the zoo said.

The zoo noted that only 50 percent of red panda cubs survive past a month. The facility's other pair of red pandas recently gave birth to a cub that died within two days.

But this newborn cub is being closely monitored and fed around the clock, and zoo spokeswoman Laurel Vincent said there is reason for optimism.

"She's showing very positive signs," Vincent said. "She's gaining weight, her temperature returned to normal, she's vocalizing when staff comes in to feed her."

The cub joins the ranks of 200 red pandas across zoos in North America. Red pandas are endangered, with fewer than 10,000 left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

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