A new young red panda, Kesari, has joined the Atascadero menagerie from the Sacramento Zoo

ATASCADERO — The Charles Paddock Zoo (CPZ) is sharing a couple of new animal highlights going on at the zoo in time for summer and the Fourth of July holiday. A new young red panda, Kesari, has arrived from the Sacramento Zoo, and a gender announcement has been made for a mongoose lemur: “It’s a Boy,” said the zoo in welcoming baby Ravi!

The zoo’s newest Himalayan red panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens), Kesari, came here from the Sacramento Zoo through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan. She just celebrated her first birthday on June 15. In the wild, red pandas’ lifespans are 8-10 years, but in captivity, they can live for 15 years or more. There are two subspecies of red pandas, the Himalayan red panda (A. fulgens), here at CPZ, and the Chinese red panda (A. Styani). Red pandas were discovered about 50 years before the black-and-white pandas. In the wild, they live in colder, high-elevation climates and do not adapt very well in the summer heat. At this time of year, they spend most of their day curled up in their air-conditioned den, so it’s best to catch them in the morning when it’s still cool. Panda means “bamboo” and with their specialized diet and migration patterns, their habitat has faced challenges with deforestation, urbanization, and poaching, and they are now classified as endangered. 

With approximately 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild, Kesari will play an important part in conservation here at the zoo. Her breeding companion will be Oolong, the zoo’s male red panda, in the hopes she will have many cubs in the years to come. To ensure the well-being of both Kesari and Oolong, a combination of one or both might be on exhibit until they both can be on exhibit together; however, Tabie, the female red panda, will have access to the exhibit.


The zoo’s baby mongoose lemur was born on April 7 and had his first visit to the vet this week. Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Steve Robinson gave him a physical exam and confirmed the keepers’ suspicions that this little one was a boy. Ravi was named by his keeper, and he is now just over 10 weeks old. He has entered the toddler phase, spending less time clinging to his mom and more time practicing his running and leaping skills. He is learning all about solid food and is a big fan of corn, grapes, and bananas. Mom and Dad are being very patient with Ravi climbing all over them and trying to sample everything they eat.

The zoo offers plenty to see and do this summer with new animals in addition to over 200 animal species to enjoy. The Charles Paddock Zoo is SLO County’s only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Open daily and located at Atascadero Lake Park on Hwy 41/Morro Road, one mile west of Highway 101. For information, go to charlespaddockzoo.org or call the zoo at (805) 461-5080.

Feature Image: Young red panda Kesari has arrived at the Charles Paddock Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo. Photo provided by Charles Paddock Zoo