Visitors to the Prospect Park Zoo can now get a look at the red panda cubs born this summer — and boy are they cute

It’s panda-monium at the Prospect Park Zoo!

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

These red pandas are your typical New York family.

On an average day, the mother, whose name is Beilei, watches over her twin daughter and son as they roughhouse around the yard, working on the coordination. But so far, their dad, Qin, has remained aloof from his kids. The family gets some of its food from home, but it often relies on takeout — from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

“Dad climbs to the top of the tree and says ‘Leave me alone,’ ” said Denise McClean, director of the Prospect Park Zoo. “But now that they can climb, they do not always leave him alone.”

Last week, the zoo introduced its newest residents, twin red panda cubs who were born in late June and are now ready for their close-up. In the wild, red pandas — who are more closely related to weasels than giant pandas — are solitary creatures, making for cold family life. Once the breeding is over, the kids will stay with their mother until they are mature while the father keeps his distance, which is why the zoo is keeping Qin mostly separated from his panda progeny.

“You never know how the father will react,” said McClean. “So far, he has not shown much interest.”

Beilei, on the other hand, has been a very hands-on mother, even when her kids are raucously jumping around — which is most of the time.

“She’s been a great mom,” said McClean. “Sometimes they are not, but she knew what to do right from the first day.”

The kids were born on June 22 to Beilei, who is the zoo’s only female. The zookeepers had no way to tell for sure that she was pregnant, but they suspected as much.

“Her belly got bigger,” said McClean. “But it could have just been that she was getting fat.”

One day, Beilei’s zookeeper walked in and found the mother huddled around her babies, who were then the size of softballs.

The boy looks more like his mom while the girl’s tail kinks like her dad’s. The park has not yet named the cubs and are hoping that a donor will pay for the privilege.

Zoos across the world often trade red pandas to foster genetic diversity in the vulnerable species. But science can only do so much if nature will not take its course and, let us tell you, pandas take their time getting down to reproductive business. For the Prospect Park Zoo, it took 20 years and a steadily revolving cast of red panda pairs to finally get some results.

“Births are really exciting when you have been trying as long as we have,” said McClean.

Zoos breed red pandas so that they do not need to trap them in the wild. But even a baby boom behind the menagerie’s fences would not benefit the species, which has a worldwide population of about 10,000 primarily due to deforestation, because the cubs bred in captivity will never be released.

Eventually, the two little ones will go off to other zoos to mate and make more red panda babies. But, for now, they seem happy enough at home.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Pardon the interruption, but I might point out that, while seemingly "the cutest things," gosh-darned or otherwise, these ferocious "red" creatures bring back frightening memories of another such "cute" former inhabitant of the Prospect Park Zoo, if I might say so.
That creature, or creatures, as it were, being the mauling polar bears that "ate" a "child" in the late 1980s.
It might behoove us all to remind our lovely offspring that nature "does not like them" and will drag them off to the their "den" to remove their arms and legs before having a light "snack" in the evening, should they not exercise extreme caution. Excuse me for pointing out what may already have been on most readers' minds, thank you.
Nov. 13, 2013, 11:17 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Not a true Wasserman, since I've moved out of the Greater Windsor Heights neighborhood, but I hope you'll forgive me for pointing out that I was just about to say that. John Wasserman.
Nov. 13, 2013, 11:52 am
Scott from PLG says:
Um… while called Pandas, they're only about the size of a raccoon... Also the park has had another set of red pandas for years. No worries for Children.
Nov. 13, 2013, 12:26 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Yes, because Raccoons are safe for children. I'm hoping you'll pardon my sarcasm.
Nov. 13, 2013, 12:34 pm
Barbara Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Oh. My. GOD! PARDON ME!!!!!

Well J.W. I see you're making excellent use of your "time away"! I assume "the check is in the mail"? "Have a nice day"!

Nov. 13, 2013, 3:11 pm
Sara T Nelson from Windsor Terrace says:
BMW, what are you referring to? Was JW going to leave us?!
Nov. 13, 2013, 3:21 pm
Barbara WAsserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Oh, THAT would be my "rock star" "husband"...BMW
Nov. 13, 2013, 3:39 pm
Polar from Bear says:
Fear the raccoon! Teach these precious Park Slope children this now! Because the world can't live without another future nonprofit exec, personal injury lawyer or private school teacher!
Nov. 14, 2013, 7:55 am
Sara T Nelson from Windsor Terrace says:
BMW, so, are there really two J Wassermans out there, or is he frequently talking to himself. It's amusing, but confusing.
Nov. 14, 2013, 10:10 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Congratulations to the Zoo!
Nov. 14, 2013, 11:06 am
Barbara Milkens Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I wouldn't know, Sara, but I highly doubt he would post as being from Windsor Terrace since he moved out to "just breath a tad". BMW
Nov. 14, 2013, 12:12 pm
Canada Post from Brooklyn says:
[“Dad climbs to the top of the tree and says ‘Leave me alone,’ ” said Denise McClean, director of the Prospect Park Zoo.]

Best to not anthropomorphize the behavior of animals.
Nov. 15, 2013, 1:13 am
John from Ft. Greene says:
Is there something about the name "Wasserman" that makes all of them think we give a flying **** about their nonsense?
Nov. 18, 2013, 12:01 pm
John Wasserman from Crown Heights says:
If you'll excuse me for saying so, John of Ft. Green, but to this John, you do appear to "give a flying ***" as you put it by "posting" on this thread nearly a week after the fact. But please continue reading and pardon the interruption.
Nov. 18, 2013, 3:49 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
If you're pardon my slightly foul language, John from Ft. Greene (if that is, in fact, your real name)... "What he said"....Thanks for reading.
John Wasserman.
Nov. 19, 2013, 4:07 pm
Emma from Park Slope says:
First of all I think you are all missing the fact which is the zoo is proud to have two new baby red panda join them. This a joyous occasion which should be celebrated. And another thing, if two teenagers decide to break into a zoo after hours and climb into an enclosure I'm sorry to say that is their fault. At that age they have enough sense to know that is dangerous and there will be tragic results from their actions. Having a zoo in the area is a wonderful way to educate kids about animals. Welcome baby red pandas!
Nov. 20, 2013, 11:40 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: