GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City has some new animals for visitors to enjoy. But the animals have more to do than just be on display. The zoo hopes they will help save their species.
One of the new animals is a 1-year-old female red panda named Paprika. Before coming to Garden City, she was at Idaho Falls Zoo.
The animal experts at Lee Richardson Zoo say she is currently going through the introduction process to meet the zoo’s male red panda, 2-year-old CJ, in the Wild Asia habitat.
Red pandas are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are found from Nepal to Burma and into Central China. However, their habitat in the wild is slowly disappearing due to things like logging and farming. Red pandas are also the target of poachers and pet trade traffickers.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has a Red Panda Species Survival Program. The program recommends that Lee Richardson Zoo breed Paprika with CJ to help the sustainability of the species.
The other new animal at the zoo is a male trumpeter swan from Tracy Aviary in Utah. The 9-year-old male swan is originally from Alaska.
He has joined the female trumpeter swan on the pond on the north side of Lee Richardson Zoo.
The elegant-looking birds are the largest species of swan. They used to be fairly common in the northern U.S. and throughout Canada. But, due to the trade of swan skins and feathers, their numbers dropped to a low of just 69 in the U.S. in 1932.
Their numbers have improved thanks to a focused effort to conserve the species. They were removed from the endangered species list in the mid-1970s.
The goal is to reintroduce trumpeter swans to their native territory. If the Lee Richardson Zoo swans have any cygnets (baby swans), the cygnets will probably be sent to one of those native areas.
Lee Richardson Zoo
If you want to learn more about the red pandas, the trumpeter swans, or many other animals, visit Lee Richardson Zoo. Admission is free. The current hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.