An injured red panda cub is on the mend after receiving around-the-clock attention from keepers at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
Red panda Amala gave birth to the cub, named Maiya, at Taronga Zoo in November.
The first weeks of Maiya’s life passed without a hitch, but she recently suffered an injury to her neck, while being carried in her mother’s mouth.
Taronga’s senior carnivore keeper Tamara Gillies has been giving constant care to the cub.
“Everything went really well initially, Amala was doing some fantastic maternal behaviours … showing all the correct behaviours for the first five weeks of the cub’s life,” she said.
“The mum was actually carrying the cub around by the scruff of the neck, which is a common way that red panda mothers do carry their babies.
“Unfortunately, her saliva or something getting into the skin folds, it actually caused a wound on the cub’s neck.”
Keepers made the difficult decision to remove Maiya from her parents’ enclosure and begin hand rearing her.
“We did try treating it and putting the cub back in initially, but the wound progressed … and the vets had to make the decision to remove the cub,” Ms Gillies said.
“We really had no choice, the animal’s health was highly compromised by this stage.”
Keepers hope to reunite animals soon
Ms Gillies said the separation had not been too stressful for the red pandas.
Keepers have been monitoring Amala and she has been calm.
Meanwhile, Maiya has found a fluffy new friend – a soft toy red panda, which she snuggles up to while feeding and sleeping.
Keepers are also making efforts to build the bond between the cub and the adult animals.
“Every day the cub goes down in its little pet pack with the keeper and spends time in the exhibit with her parents,” Ms Gillies said.
“Our hope is to, as soon as possible, reintegrate that cub with her parents.”
Maiya is expected to remain in Ms Gillies’ constant care for at least another month.