Male red panda arrives at the Zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan for red pandas, resides at Sanctuary Asia.
To further support its commitment to red panda conservation, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed an endangered male red panda to its animal family. Benjamin, 6, arrived at the OKC Zoo from The Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, as part of a breeding recommendation for the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA)’s Red Panda Species Survival Plan® (SSP). Benjamin has been paired with the Zoo’s female red panda, Khyana, 2, and the two reside at the red panda habitat at Sanctuary Asia.
SSP programs were developed by the AZA in 1981 to help ensure the husbandry and breeding management and, as a result, the sustainability of select animal species, many of which are threatened or endangered, within AZA-member zoos and aquariums, including the OKC Zoo. Many of these programs help enhance conservation efforts of these species in the wild as well.
“Benjamin and Khyana are a great match and our hope is to see our red panda family grow as part of this breeding recommendation,” said Tyler Boyd, curator of carnivores. “The OKC Zoo’s involvement in this SSP plan and bringing this pair together plays a vital role in the conservation of this endangered and beloved species.”
Benjamin’s caretakers report that he is very comfortable with his new habitat and introductions have begun between he and Khyana. The red panda pair have been sharing habitat space together and caretakers have observed Benjamin and Khyana eating together and lying next to each other which are positive signs for a connection! According to caretakers, Benjamin also prefers grapes and apples and is very inquisitive about any enrichment added to his habitat.
Red pandas, also known as the “original panda,” are bamboo eaters, native to mountain forests of Nepal, India, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. This species is easily identified by their unique reddish-brown fur, which acts as camouflage in the wild. Red pandas are solitary animals that are most active in early mornings and late afternoons. The global red panda population is estimated at less than 10,000 animals, with a conservation status of endangered. Due to deforestation, poaching and the illegal pet trade, the red panda population has declined by 50% in the last 20 years.
“Fur” the love of red pandas visit the Zoo to see Benjamin and Khyana! The Oklahoma City Zoo is in its winter hours and open Thursdays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. The park is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Wednesday, February 9. Purchase advance tickets for general admission at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.