In January 2008, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park’s seven year old female red panda, Shu Fang – Chinese for “kind, gentle and sweet”– received a new male mate, six year old Yoda, who came from Blackpool Zoo on an international endangered species breeding programme. They were kept distant from the snow leopard, one of their usual predators, and Yoda, on his own with Shu Fang, was said to be using the Force to show an interest in Shu Fang! While red pandas are arboreal and solitary, so that it might be some time before the patter of tiny paws occurs, Shu Fang’s sister, Li Yee, has presented four litters with her mate Wing Wor, so the outlook is hopeful.
Grumeti, one of 15 black rhinos that live at the Park, notched up her first birthday at the beginning of 2008, having been delivered by mother, Etna, aged 13. And as rhinos are difficult to breed outside the wild, and with only 3100 thought to remain there, every fresh arrival in the rhino community is a plus.