Today Greenville Zoo director Jeff Bullock announced the arrival of three new residents - red panda cubs born to Collette and Steve, two of the Greenville Zoo’s three red pandas. According to Bullock, the area zookeeper discovered Collette in the process of giving birth as she was making her final rounds of the day on June 12. Based on the results of ultrasound exams performed earlier, the zoo staff was aware that there were three cubs, and when Collette left the nest box to eat, a quick exam revealed that there were two female cubs and one male cub. They are the first set of triplets born at the Greenville Zoo since 2006.
“We still worry anytime an animal goes into labor, but by Wednesday morning, all three cubs were squeaking and squirming in the nest box, with Collette taking excellent care of her new litter,” said Bullock. “At this point, all three cubs are doing well, appear healthy and happy, have good weight and are active.” The cubs still have their eyes closed and rely completely on Collette. While it may be several weeks before zoo guests see the cubs out on exhibit, they could catch a glimpse as Collette moves them from one den to another.
The triplets are the first offspring for Collette and Steve, but this was Collette’s second pregnancy. Her first cub, Willie Nelson, was born on Father’s Day in 2015 and was later transferred to the Knoxville Zoo as part of the red panda Species Survival Program (SSP). Collette was born on June 11, 2012 at Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She was transferred to the Greenville Zoo in March 2013. Steve was born on June 24, 2008 at the Detroit Zoo and was transferred to the Greenville Zoo in December 2016. The zoo’s third red panda is Scarlett, who will be 14 next month. Scarlett came to the Greenville Zoo in 2008 as part of the breeding program. She currently resides in the exhibit next to Steve’s and Collette’s habitat.
Red pandas were first described in 1825, 48 years before the black and white giant panda. The red panda is native to China, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma and has a lifespan of 12-14 years. The red panda is listed as a Vulnerable Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.