Press release from the City of Asheville:
The City of Asheville is excited to announce that the WNC Nature Center’s new red panda exhibit will open to the public on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2019 and includes the introduction of our new resident pandas, Leafa (picture attached) and Phoenix.
The red pandas arrived at the Nature Center in November, have passed the required quarantine period and are being slowly introduced to their new habitat. “We want them to have plenty of time to acclimate to their new surroundings, so the next couple of months will be a time for settling in out of view of the public,” said Nature Center Animal Curator Erin Oldread.
They are the first species to be introduced as part of the Nature Center’s new Prehistoric Appalachia project. Red pandas are currently endangered with several thousand remaining in the wild. Leafa and Phoenix are part of the Species Survival Program associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
While most of the public will wait until Valentine’s Day, the Friends of the WNC Nature Center have recently announced giving opportunities that support the red panda habitat and give donors a chance to see them up close. For $250, donors receive 2 tickets to a soft opening of the red panda exhibit in early February and a donation of $1,000 allows the donor and up to 3 guests to have a private red panda encounter! The number of these special experiences is limited to ensure the pandas’ well-being and comfort. If you’re still looking for a last minute holiday gift, symbolic red panda adoptions start at $25 and red panda merchandise is available at the Nature Center gift shop.
Much of the funding for the red panda exhibit comes from the Friends of the WNC Nature Center, a non-profit organization that has provided funds for the Nature Center for over 40 years. For more information about the Friends of the WNC Nature Center, visit www.wildwnc.org/support. To support their red panda fundraising efforts, go to www.fundly.com/bringing-red-panda-to-asheville.
Asheville’s 42-acre WNC Nature Center is home to over 60 species of animals, including river otters, red and gray wolves, black bears, and a cougar. Its mission is to connect people with animals and plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation. The Nature Center is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information about the WNC Nature Center, visit their website at www.wildwnc.org.