Louisville Zoo unveils latest addition: Sundara the red panda

Red pandas have not been at the Louisville Zoo since the 1970s.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 1:18 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Zoo has a new animal addition!

On Monday, the Zoo gave a tease about the new animal, only sharing a vague photo. On Tuesday, they unveiled the mystery animal.

It’s a one-year-old male red panda named Sundara, or affectionately called “Sunny D.”

Red pandas are found in the Himalayan forests in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China. Red pandas are most active at dusk and dawn, are tree dwelling and solitary. They spend most of their day resting to conserve energy.

The animal recently gained a lot of attention when Disney-Pixar released a movie in 2022 called Turning Red. The movie is about a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian student who transforms into a giant red panda when she experiences any strong emotion due to a hereditary curse.

Red pandas have not been at the Louisville Zoo since the 1970s.

“There are so many fun things to learn about this unique species that we haven’t seen at the Zoo since the early days,” Louisville Zoo Director Dan Maloney said. “While one might think they are in the bear family, they are actually in a taxonomic group that shares common traits with mustelids like raccoons, weasels and skunks. We are very excited to have red pandas back at the Zoo and to be sharing this species with Kentuckiana.”

Guests can see Sunny D in Glacier Run in the former snowy owl exhibit next to the Splash Park.

Sunny D comes to the Zoo from the Kansas City Zoo in Kansas City, Missouri. He currently weighs in at 8 lbs.

Red pandas are listed as endangered and decreasing on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their major threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation and threats from human interference including hunting and illegal pet trade.

The Zoo is open daily, year-round. The current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (stay until 6 p.m.) through September 17. The Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.