Adorable red panda cubs debut at Prospect Park Zoo

Julie Larsen Maher_1582_Styan’s Red Panda and Cubs_PPZ_10 24 19
Red panda cubs have made their debut at the Prospect Park Zoo. (WCS/Julie Larsen Maher)

A pair of male red panda cubs are delighting visitors to the Prospect Park Zoo.

The cubs — named Qi (pronounced “chee”), which means “life force,” and Liu, which means “willow” — were born over the summer in their indoor den at the zoo, where their mother, Willow, has been taking care of them, but now they are old enough to explore their outside habitat, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

When red pandas are born, they are lighter in color and have softer and plusher coats. As they get older, their coats darken. Adulthood is when they turn about 18 months old, WCS says. This particular family are a subspecies from the eastern Himalayan range in China and northern Myanmar called Styan’s red pandas— they are a little larger and have a deeper red color than the western red pandas found at the Bronx and Central Park zoos. 

WCS has been breeding red pandas and New York City’s zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums meant to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations at accredited zoos. 

You’ll be able to see behind the scenes of the red panda breeding program in an episode of “The Zoo” on Animal Planet in early 2020. But if you want to see them in person, tickets to the zoo (450 Flatbush Ave.) are $9.95, and hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.