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Not 1, not 2, but 3 new cubs! John Ball Zoo announces birth of red panda triplets

The cubs were born to Wasabi and Wyatt on June 25.
Credit: Courtesy of the John Ball Zoo
Wasabi the red panda at the John Ball Zoo gave birth to triplets on June 25, 2020.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The John Ball Zoo's red panda family has grown exponentially this month. 

The zoo announced Friday that Wyatt and Wasabi birthed three red panda triplets. 

These cubs are the first for Wasabi -- Wyatt has already fathered two cubs in 2016 while at Chattanooga Zoo. Like red pandas in the wild, and as long as mom and cubs keep doing well, the cubs will spend their first several weeks in the maternity den bonding with Wasabi. The zoo will also perform the cubs' first neonatal exam, provide vaccinations and determine the gender of the cubs. 

This red panda birth is very significant for John Ball Zoo and the red panda species. Red pandas are endangered and it is believed there are less than 2,500 adult red pandas left in the wild. 

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Wasabi and Wyatt were matched as part of the Red Panda Species Survival Program (SSP). 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. 

There are over 450 total SSP programs created to cooperatively manage species that are threatened or endangered. Each program is managed by an advisory group made up of animal experts. SSP programs not only help to manage animal populations in human care but also help contribute to field conservation efforts, species recovery, and veterinary care for wildlife diseases. 

Wasabi and the cubs will remain behind the scenes bonding for several weeks, but John Ball Zoo said it will keep the community updated on social media, like Facebook and Instagram.

John Ball Zoo is now open for the 2020 season. Members, non-members and MI Bridges cardholders can reserve their timed ticket online prior to their arrival by visiting www.jbzoo.org/visitandtickets.

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