Hogle Zoo welcomes new Red Panda in effort to conserve the species

Jun 30, 2022, 7:00 PM

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. Photo credit: Uta...

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. Photo credit: Utah's Hogle Zoo.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hogle Zoo is welcoming a new female red panda to its Asian Highlands exhibit.

The zoo’s newest resident is named Priya (pronounced Pree-ah). According to a press release, she comes from Colorado’s Pueblo Zoo. She arrives in Utah as part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Panda Species Survival Plan.

Priya is 4 years old and “in her prime reproduction time,” as the press release states. Animal scientists have paired her with 8-year-old Mow Mow, a male red panda currently living at Hogle Zoo.

“Priya is adapting well to life in Salt Lake City,” according to associate director of Utah’s Hogle Zoo Animal Care, Bob Cisneros. “Utahns have the unique opportunity to see these endangered animals interacting and learn how to protect red pandas in the wild. Priya and Mow Mow are here to remind our guests about the need to preserve both wildlife and wild places.”

According to the press release, the two are paired as part of a zoo program to responsibly breed species that are not genetically related. This program allows guests to see and learn about different animals without having to take them out of the wild.

Red pandas in the wild and protecting their species

Red pandas have been considered to be endangered since 2015. They are native to central China and northern Myanmar. According to the press release, the species live in elevations similar to Utah ranging from 4,800 to 13,000 feet high.

The press release states various threats to red pandas. These include habitat loss and degradation, poaching and human conflict. The red panda population has decreased by 40% in the past two decades. 

“Utah’s Hogle Zoo is working to protect this amazing species through the Red Panda Network, a non-profit organization that identifies unprotected red panda habitat and trains local communities to become ‘forest guardians’.” the press release reads.

Cisneros said Utah’s weather during red panda breeding season, January through March, is close to what they experience in the wild. The zoo hopes that the two red pandas will breed.

“Both Priya and Mow Mow have separately bred in the past. And the Zoo is hopeful guests will meet new cubs next year,” Cisneros said.

To learn more about red pandas click here.

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Hogle Zoo welcomes new Red Panda in effort to conserve the species