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Red Panda, Dr. Lily, Arrives Safely
at Nashville Zoo

Red Panda, Dr. Lily

Posted April 2019

The Milwaukee County Zoo’s red panda cub, Dr. Lily Parkinson, has arrived safely to her new home at the Nashville Zoo. The Species Survival Plan® recommended the move to Nashville to join its red panda population, along the Bamboo Trail exhibit.  Dr. Lily will eventually be meeting a new male, also from another zoo. After her standard 30-day quarantine and exam, she'll acclimate to the habitat on her own before the male is introduced.

Red Panda, Dr. LilyDr. Lily, born June 6, is named after the Zoo’s recent veterinarian resident, Dr. Lily Parkinson, who was the first to discover the cub through an ultrasound on mother, Dr. Erin Curry. Dr. Lily is the first cub for mother, Dr. Erin Curry, also known as Dr. E., and father, Dash.

The Nashville Zoo has enjoyed a great deal of success with the conservation population management of the red panda, participating in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan and the successful birth of 11 red pandas since 1989. Its current breeding pair is scheduled to leave for another AZA-accredited facility, which allows for the acquisition of two younger animals, one being Dr. Lily.

Red pandas are easily identifiable by their reddish-brown color, white face markings and speckling of black around their ears and legs. They begin to get adult coloration around 50 days old, which acts as a camouflage. The fur covering their bodies also covers the pads on their feet. This helps red pandas keep the heat in their bodies during the cold winter months.

Red pandas rely on bamboo for most of their diet, specifically the most tender, young shoots and leaves. But, they are only able to extract one-fourth of the nutrients from the bamboo. So, red pandas spend up to 13 hours a day searching for and eating bamboo. During the summer months, they supplement their diet with fruit and insects.

In the wild, red pandas live in the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China. Red pandas are considered endangered due to deforestation, poaching and trapping. With an estimated adult population less than 2,500 and an approximate mortality rate of 86 percent, this makes Dr. Lily’s move very important.