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West Michigan may not have a groundhog, but we have the next best (and cutest) thing

We don't have a groundhog in West Michigan to predict the regions weather, but we do have the next best (and cutest) thing!

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan doesn't have it's own Punxsutawney Phil, but we do have something special of our own.

This morning -- 13 ON YOUR SIDE checked in on the red panda family at the John Ball Zoo: Wyatt, Wasabi, Willow, Ruby, and Rose.

Wyatt and Wasabi, who joined the John Ball Zoo back in 2019, were paired up as  Red Panda Species Survival Program (SSP). Over the summer, the two welcomed triplets -- which is a pretty big deal! Red pandas are endangered and it is believed there are less than 2,500 adult red pandas left in the wild. The zoo said this is mainly due to the loss of wild places and destruction of bamboo forests.  

The SSP is one of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s many conservation programs. The SSP’s primary role is to serve as a breeding program for selected endangered or threatened species. The goal is to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population for these animals in order to increase their numbers.

Zookeepers said that the whole family is doing really well.

The cubs -- Willow, Ruby, and Rose -- are now 7 months old and love playing in the snow. 

If you're ever interested in virtually visiting the red panda family, the John Ball Zoo has a live came in their habitat. They are often running around and can be seen nibbling bamboo. 

While the zoo is closed for the winter, you can stay connected online via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. They also offer onsite Guided Tours and Virtual Safaris with details at www.jbzoo.org/kidsandfamily.



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