These adorable red panda cubs have ventured outside for the first time after taking their British keepers by surprise – because they had no idea their mother was pregnant.
The gorgeous animals, named Bo and Chen, are the first red pandas to be born at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford, Oxon., for ten years.
Their mother Scarlet gave birth in June and they have emerged from their nest box for the first time this week.
Scroll down to see a video of the pandas!
But their birth came as a total surprise because keepers had not observed any signs of mating between mother Scarlet and five-year-old father Doodoo.
Red pandas are also highly secretive and two-year-old Scarlet’s thick fur helped to conceal her pregnancy bump.
The creatures are regarded as ”vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which means it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Jamie Craig, curator at the centre, said: “The Park has had an excellent record of breeding this species in the past and it says something about our history with red pandas that the breeding male we have now is the grandson of one of our original animals.
“Our new pair look set to be every bit as successful as previous pandas at the Park and will play an important role in the breeding programme.”
Cotswold Wildlife Park has had red pandas for 40 years but, due to a combination of habitat loss and hunting, it is thought there are less than 2,500 of the gentle species left in the wild.
While classified as a relative of the giant panda and the raccoon, the rigid tailed animal is considered as its own unique family – the Ailuridae.
They normally live in mist shrouded, temperate forests of the eastern Himalayas, including parts of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Myanmar, and the isolated mountain ranges in western China.
The fast-growing red panda cubs are already about three-quarters the size of their mum.
They can expect to grow to the size of a large domestic cat and live for up to 25-years in captivity.
Hayley Rothwell, deputy head of primates and small mammals, said: “We were made up at their arrival as we didn’t know Scarlet was expecting.
“It was a shock when we found them in the nest box. They were born deaf with their eyes shut so stayed in their nest box for a while.
“There was a lot of anticipation for them to show themselves and we had lots of visitors getting in touch for updates.
“It has been a very exciting time. They are really funny to watch as they are getting more and more confident but it can be scary watching them walking from branch to branch.
“Luckily they haven’t fallen yet. Their father Doodoo is very confident and friendly around people but Scarlet is very nervy. They tend to be taking after their mother at the moment.
“They can live up to 25-years and hopefully we’ll have many more cubs thanks to them.”
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