Your morning adorable: Twin red panda cubs make their debut at the Calgary Zoo
Two red panda cubs born May 30 at the Calgary Zoo in Canada made their public debut Thursday. Prior to their big outing, the cubs hadn't been out of the den where they were born. They've been cared for there by their mother, 6-year-old Malikha, with as little human interference as possible -- zoo staff monitored the cubs' growth and development with remote cameras.
The cubs, a male and a female, haven't yet been named, and the zoo has asked for the public's help with that task. An online poll, which began Thursday and will run for two weeks, allows visitors to vote for their favorite names from a list of five choices for each cub. (Name options for the male cub are Makalu, Kai, Chin, Naresh and Shifu. Choices for the female cub are Mei-Li, Mulan, Shreeya, Honglien and Josna.)
"They are very entertaining to watch as they play together, and seem to have quite different personalities," zoo curator Tim Sinclair-Smith said of the babies. "The boy is quite a character, and the little girl is more laid-back, which makes them pretty easy to tell apart."
The cubs are 10th and 11th red pandas to be born at the Calgary Zoo since 1994. Beyond Malikha and their father, 3-year-old Zeyar, two other adult red pandas live at the zoo. One, a male named Kachin, is considered a senior citizen at age 15; the other is a year-old female named Keti.
The Calgary Zoo is a participant in a Species Survival Plan, managed by the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums and made up of a number of zoos worldwide, to help the red panda population rebound. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the species, which is native to southern Asia, as vulnerable to extinction, primarily as a result of habitat loss and deforestation.
See more photos of the cubs after the jump!
-- Lindsay Barnett
First, fourth, fifth, sixth photos: Jeff McIntosh / Associated Press
Second, third photos: Todd Korol / Reuters