Woodland Park Zoo has announced the names of its new red panda cubs. The community chose Zeya (ZAY-uh), which means “success” in Burmese, from a list of three names proposed by zookeepers. The other cub was named Ila (EE-la), which means “earth” in Sanskrit, by the Rosauer family, longtime friends of the zoo.
The red panda cubs, like many of the zoo’s other animals, were named to honor the land that they are native to. Red pandas are indigenous to the Himalayan mountain region that includes parts of Nepal, Myanmar, China and northern regions of India. “Zeya” is derived from the Burmese language, which is the official language of Myanmar. “Ila” can be translated as “earth” and comes from the ancient Sanskrit language from which many modern languages spoken in India are derived.
The twin cubs were born in June to 2-year-old first-time mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko. It was the first successful birth of red pandas at the zoo in nearly three decades – the last successful birth was in 1989.
Hazel lives in a private, indoor climate-controlled den where she can continue to nurse and bond with her babies in a calm and quiet environment; the den is off view to zoo guests. Yukiko does not yet have contact with his new family, but introductions may be planned in the near future.
The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs in the outdoor public exhibit in mid-October to late November.