The Idaho Falls Zoo revealed the names of two new red panda cubs to locals on Monday.
The zoo allowed visitors to name the two female cubs in a contest that had three sets of names. Visitors chose Paprika for the larger cub and Saffron for the smaller one.
Idaho Falls Zoo General Curator Katie Barry said in a zoo Vimeo video that the two cubs were born July 1. Their parents are Linda and Marvin. Marvin was also born at the zoo in 2019.
“We’re very happy to have (Marvin) and his girl back and definitely to have their babies here,” Barry said.
Sunny Katseanes, Idaho Falls Zoo public engagement curator, said in an email to the Post Register that Marvin’s mother chose not to care for him shortly after he was born. The zoo sent him to Zoo Knoxville to be raised by the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums’ red panda experts, where he met Linda.
Marvin returned to the Idaho Falls Zoo early in 2021, according to an Aug. 10 news release. He was the first red panda cub to be born at the zoo, making Paprika and Saffron the second and third Idaho Falls Zoo red panda births.
The cubs spend most of their time in their nesting box shortly after birth, Barry said in the video. Zoo visitors can expect them to make their way out into the exhibit more regularly in the beginning of October.
“Just like kittens and puppies, their eyes aren’t open for a while. They are now … It’s usually once they’re about 90 days old that they start wandering out on their own,” Barry said in the video.
The Idaho Falls Zoo participates in the AZA’s red panda Species Survival Plan. Red pandas have been listed as endangered on the International Union of for Conservation of Nature’s Red List since 2008.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, the red panda population has declined by more than 50% over the last 20 years. Scientists estimate that there may be 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild today.