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Changing of the Guard for Mill Mountain Zoo’s Red Pandas

Mill Mountain Zoos beloved Red panda, Nova, has retired. Nova, now nearly 16, came to the Zoo in March 2007 from the Potowatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana. She quickly became a staff and guest favorite and is the first stop for many at the Zoo who enjoy her enthusiasm about bamboo.
The average lifespan for red pandas is 8 10 years in the wild and 13 ½ years in captivity. Novas long, healthy life speaks to the superior level of care she has been given at Mill Mountain Zoo.
Red pandas have been exhibited at Mill Mountain Zoo since 1989. The zoo works
cooperatively with the Red Panda S
pecies Survival Plan. Species Survival Plans work to ensure genetic diversity, demographic distribution and longterm sustainability of some species held by zoos, aquariums, and nature centers. Nova has contributed to the increase of her endangered species by being a productive participant, giving birth to three litters and four surviving cubs.

Nova w
ill be moved off exhibit into another enclosure in the Zoos holding facility. She will maintain the same lifestyle she currently enjoys, along with high quality care and enrichment, but will no longer be on exhibit.

N
ot to worry, the enclosure is not empty: Welcome Frank, an almost fouryearold Red panda from the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina, to join the Mill Mountain Zoo family. Frank was born in captivity as a triplet, along with siblings Anne and Marie. Interestingly, Mill Mountain Zoos first Red panda, Oldfield, is a distant relative of young Frank.
After spending the required 30 days in quarantine per Mill Mountain Zoo’s policy and procedures, Mill Mountain Zoo is excited to introduce its new Red panda to the region. Because Frank is much younger than Nova, modifications were made to the exhibit to allow him to access the higher areas of his enclosure.
If you pay a visit to the Zoo you might catch Frank climbing branches or enjoying some bamboo, which he really loves. Without red pandas in the wild, bamboo plants would grow out of control and affect the growth of other plants in the forest.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are less than 10,000 red pandas left in the world, which makes them critically endangered. Saving them is important to the preservation of the worlds natural heritage and global biodiversity, said Niki Voudren, Mill Mountain Zoos Executive Director. Red panda presence is measured by Conservation Biologists as an indicator of the overall health of their ecoregion. Conserving the red panda simply helps balance the ecosystem, Voudren explained. 

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