Oregon Zoo welcomes Mei Mei, zoo’s first endangered red panda

Red panda Mei Mei (Image courtesy: Oregon Zoo)

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Oregon Zoo is welcoming its first red panda.

Mei Mei arrived at the zoo earlier this month. Her new home is the zoo’s former Amur leopard habitat. The space was remodeled to accommodate a tree-dwelling, bamboo-eating red panda by adding many branches and leafy plants, along with a bubbling pond and lots of room to climb.

To keep her cool in hot weather, they added some misters and an air-conditioned den box.

Mei Mei has full access to her habitat, but she may not be visible all the time to zoo visitors.

“Red pandas are known for their climbing ability, and Mei Mei is no exception,” Morgan said. “If you visit her at the zoo and don’t spot her right away, be sure to look up — she can often be found lounging in the trees.”

Mei Mei also spends a fair amount of her day napping, and might be snuggled up in her den box.

Wild red pandas are solitary animals, spending most of their time alone or in small groups. Mei Mei is the first red panda to arrive at the Oregon Zoo, but keepers hope to welcome another in the coming months.

Red pandas are an endangered species with populations declining by about 50% in the past 20 years. Experts believe there could be as few as 2,500 left in the wild.

Mei Mei came to Oregon on a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan for red pandas — a cooperative program among zoos that helps create genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations to guarantee the long-term future of animals. These SSPs also support relevant field projects, research and public education to help prevent animal endangerment and extinction.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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