GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A happy announcement from John Ball Zoo: Wasabi the red panda is pregnant.
The Grand Rapids zoo made the announcement Friday morning, posting video of Wasabi’s ultrasound on Facebook.
The cub should be here later this month or in early July. According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, red pandas often have two cubs at a time — but Wasabi is having one.
This is Wasabi’s first pregnancy. Her mating partner Wyatt has already had two cubs. They were born in 2016 at Chattanooga Zoo, where he was before coming to Grand Rapids in 2017.
Wasabi and Wyatt’s cubs are part of the Species Survival Plan for endangered red pandas. There are believed to be fewer than 2,500 adults in the wild, with the population decline blamed on the destruction of the bamboo forests where they live in the Himalayan Mountains.
“Red pandas are endangered and their survival continues to decline in the wild,” John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo said in a statement. “Wasabi’s pregnancy and anticipated birth is significant for John Ball Zoo and crucial for the red panda species.”
The zoo works partners with the Red Panda Network’s Forest Guardians, a group in the Himalayan regions that works to protect habitats and teach fellow locals about the pandas.