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Lansing's Potter Park Zoo Welcomes Two Red Panda Cubs

Lansing's Potter Park Zoo has welcomed two red panda cubs. The cubs are among less than 220 of the animals at Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions across the U.S.

Earlier this month, Potter Park Zoo’s red panda, Maliha, gave birth to the two cubs. Liz Jagenow is Maliha’s primary trainer. She calls Maliha an ambassador to her wild counterparts. She said she’s helping keep the population of red pandas from disappearing.

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Credit Potter Park Zoo
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Liz Jagenaw holds one of Maliha's cubs.

“She's a great mom, she spent pretty much the first two days almost entirely in the nest box, she didn't even really come out to eat. She just spent the time grooming and caring for those cubs," she said.

The cubs, born on Independence Day, are the second litter from Maliha. Deagan-Reid, Maliha's mate, arrived from Zoo Knoxville in the spring. The pair were recommended for breeding by the AZA.

"They have a computer program that basically calculates the best genetic variability to keep the population healthy for the next 100 years," Jagenow said. 

On the day of the cubs' birth, Jagenow said Maliha didn't eat or drink because she was very focused on giving birth and caring for her babies. She said Maliha is a very good mother. 

"The way that she's been nursing and actually kind of sits up so that the cubs are sitting between her back legs. She sits hovering over them so that it looks like they're even more protected," she added. 

The cubs were weighed on July 6, two days after they were born.

"One of them weighed 118 grams and the other weighed 141 grams. And our goal is to weigh them like once every three days or so. But if Maliha is willing, then we will try to weigh them more often," Jagenow said. 

According to Jagenow the cubs will stay with Maliha until they are about 10 months old. 

"So once the cubs are old enough to be on their own, they will be sent to their own zoo, either to breed or to be in a holding institution where they will get to live out their life in an accredited institution," she said. 

Potter Park Zoo expects to have Maliha and her cubs on display to the public in October. Until then, Jagenow says updates can be found on the zoo’s social media platforms. 

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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