John Ball Zoo is getting a new resident later this summer.
The zoo announced recently it is making space for a 5-year-old red panda named Wyatt, who will be introduced to visitors in mid-August after he has settled in. Wyatt’s habitat will be located at the top of the waterfall and is currently under construction. Wyatt comes to Grand Rapids from the Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee.
The red panda is a solitary animal in the wild and John Ball Zoo said it plans to have only one animal for the first year.
Wyatt will join the zoo’s animal training program. Red pandas are particularly smart animals and can learn to display their paws, underside and mouth, assisting zookeepers and veterinarian staff in their own health care.
With less than 10,000 red pandas left in the wild, they have been designated an endangered animal and are part of the Species Survival Plan, or SSP, a breeding program in accredited zoos, which is managed globally by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. John Ball Zoo participates in 34 species SSPs created to save animals from extinction.
*Photos courtesy of John Ball Zoo