Red Panda Has Rare Triplets in Fargo

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2009 8:05 PM CDT
In this photo taken Friday, June 19, 2009, zoo officials hold the new Red Pandas that were born June 11th at the Red River Zoo in Fargo, N.D.   (AP Photo/The Forum, Carrie Snyder)
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(Newser) – Red panda mom Shan Tou has surprised zoo keepers in Fargo, ND, by giving birth to triplets, InForum reports. “This is huge," a Red River Zoo executive said. Red pandas, an endangered species, often have one or two cubs, but triplets are rare. "It’s been 10 years since the last triplets have been born in the Western Hemisphere,” said the zoo's main panda keeper.

Zoo officials didn't know Shan Tou and daddy Yukiko were expecting until mom dropped one while on exhibit. She sneaked off to have the next two in her nesting area. The babies, still white with black and tan flakes—they'll turn red in a month—are about 5 inches long and weigh between 166 and 232 grams. For now, mom is still protecting them, but zoo execs say they'll go on exhibit by the end of August.
(Read more panda stories.)