Warning: the following pictures are ridiculously cute as zoo reveals images of baby red panda twins after they emerged from their nesting box for the first time this week.
The baby red pandas, named Bert and Ernie after the Sesame Street characters by zoo keepers at Whipsnade, were born in June but have been hiding away in their nesting boxes until this week, when their mum – six year-old Tashi – began carrying them outside for short intervals.
Senior Keeper at Whipsnade Zoo, Stephen Perry said it has been ‘magical’ to see the baby red pandas out and about for the first time.
“Red pandas can be difficult to observe due to their shy and secretive nature, their nocturnal habits and the fact that they spend most of their time up trees,” Mr Perry said.
“We never see much of their babies for the first couple of months of their lives but it’s worth the wait. They’re incredible and beautiful creatures, and a real visitor favourite.
“Tashi is a brilliant mum, and when the weather gets warmer you sometimes catch her carrying the babies between nesting boxes to find the coolest one for them.”
Bert and Ernie are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Bert and Ernie are the fourth and fifth cubs born to experienced mum Tashi at Whipsnade.
Mr Perry added: “Having such a confident mum there is great because it means we can just leave them to it and not interfere. We just check in on Tashi, the boys and their dad Blue once a day to make sure everything’s okay.”
Red pandas, which are classified as Vulnerable by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, are found mainly in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern China. There are thought to be around 10,000 red pandas left in the wild. It is estimated that their numbers may have decreased by as much as 40% over the last 50 years due to massive habitat loss, increased human activity and poaching.