Red panda cubs draw crowds at OKC Zoo while helping to save their species

OKLAHOMA CITY - They're fluffy and adorable but they're also playing a big role in helping their endangered species.

Zoogoers of all ages are excited to finally get a glimpse of twins Ravi and Khyana.

For about 3 months,  they've been on a sort of red panda maternity leave with first-time mom Leela.

"She let them grow, develop, nurse, really kind of make that bond together," said carnivore curator Tyler Boyd.

Their dad - Thomas - is right next door.

They're not quite sure yet when he's going to meet the kids.

"It's kind of up to Leela, we're going to let her tell us when she's ready," Boyd said.

For now - they're exploring with mom and little do they know - they're also helping to save their species.

There are only about 10,000 red pandas left in the wild.

Deforestation, agriculture, cattle grazing, and competition for resources in their habitats from Nepal to Central China.

So the OKC Zoo is taking part in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Species Survival Breeding and Transfer Program.

"Every birth is vital, every birth is important, not necessarily for release in the wild but to keep genetic diversity and show people what these animals look like," Boyd said.

Seeing the animals is something zoo staff says is vital to conservation.

"Give them a little bit more knowledge and respect so that they can understand the plight these guys face," said Boyd.

These are the first red pandas born at the OKC Zoo since 2016.

Learning about the species' behavior is critical in developing conservation plans.

You can donate to conservation efforts for all animals when you visit the OKC Zoo.

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