Red Panda to be breed in Sikkim

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Gangtok, June 8 (ANI): Keen to save one of nature's rarest and most beautiful animals, the Red Panda, the Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park (SHZP), in Gangtok, has embarked on a breeding and conservation programme.

The red panda (Ailurus Fulgens) is the state animal of Sikkim, found in six protected areas of the state.

This animal is facing extinction due to habitat loss caused by construction activity and over grazing.

The zoo has been working on the programme since 1997 following the arrival of a pair of red panda at Gangtok Zoo from the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), in Darjeeling.

"Red Panda's being the state animal of Sikkim, and also an endangered species of global importance, so high precautions have been taken for the conservation of these Red Pandas in the Himalayan Zoological Park. The Forest Department of the Government of Sikkim is effortlessly trying to save these pandas in the wild as well as in the captive condition. After breeding here in the Himalayan Zoological Park, we are going to release them in their natural habitat," said Madan K.S. Shankar, Deputy Director, Zoo and Wildlife, SHZP.

The zoo has obtained four pandas, two pairs from the wild as part of the breeding programme. One of the female panda has started to prepare her bedding, in anticipation of delivering her cubs.

The SHZP aims to collect a gene pool from the wild population.

"We have paired both the male and the female from the wild. So, in the coming days, whatever offspring's we have, we will have captive breed from the wild population," added Shankar.

The zoological park aims to restock panda habitats.

The SHZP has already been identified as the most promising zoo for the red panda conservation programme, as it is favourably located next to a panda habitat containing the animal's staple diet bamboo.

Climatically, the zoo is suitable for red pandas giving hope to forest officials. By Tashi Pradhan (ANI)

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