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Paprika the red panda moves in to new home at Greater Vancouver Zoo

This photo from the Greater Vancouver Zoo shows Paprika, a red panda. (Image credit: Instagram/greatervancouverzoo) This photo from the Greater Vancouver Zoo shows Paprika, a red panda. (Image credit: Instagram/greatervancouverzoo)

A red panda named Paprika was introduced to her would-be mate at the Greater Vancouver Zoo Saturday as part of an effort to help increase the population of the endangered species.

The six-year-old female has been paired up with 10-year-old male, Arun – who was the father of the first red panda cubs ever born in B.C. last year.

The hope, which is perhaps appropriate for Family Day weekend, is that the two will hit it off and produce more cubs, according to social media posts from the zoo which notes this recent pairing is part of the species survival plan.

The Red Panda Network, a conservation group, says there are less than 10,000 of the animals left and that the population could be as small as 2,500. They are found in southwestern China and the eastern Himalayas and although they are not related to the giant pandas, they do have a diet that is almost exclusively bamboo and spend most of their time in trees.

Habitat loss, including deforestation, is one of the main reasons they are endangered, according to the conservation group. Disease, poaching and a lack of food are others.

Visitors to the zoo over the long weekend will also be able to participate in a fundraiser benefiting the Red Panda Network. In a twist on Valentine ’s Day, people are being invited to pay $5 to name a cockroach after an ex-partner or anyone else who “bugs” them. Those who donate will be entered into a contest to have a “behind the scenes” meet and greet with Arun and Paprika. Top Stories

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