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Int'l Red Panda Day celebration: Darjeeling Zoo turns to social media

Darjeeling: With the pandemic shutting down public entry into zoos and parks, the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Pnhizp,) in Darjeeling, has turned to social media to commemorate the International Red Panda Day falling on September 19.

The Red Panda Network, for the first time, had launched International Red Panda Day in 2010. It is celebrated every year on the third Saturday of September. In 2010, 16 schools along with a few zoos had participated globally. Currently, more than 60 zoos around the world participate.

Aimed at creating awareness on the dwindling population of these magnificent creatures, International Red Panda Day dedicates a day to learning about Red Pandas. The aim is also to help save the biome in which Red Pandas live by educating the masses about this endangered species and the habitat they live in.

"In past years we used to invite schools to commemorate the day at the zoo and also seek the active participation of the visitors to the zoo. This year as this is not possible owing to the pandemic, we have lined up a number of competitions and awareness programmes on social media," stated Dharam Deo Rai, Director, Pnhzp.

The commemoration will include online quiz; photography contest; one week live and educational video streaming on Red Pandas along with social media posts and videos

The online quiz is open to students on 18.09.2020. Link will be available on the Pnhzp's Facebook page.

The photography contest is open for everyone. Pictures of Red Panda taken by the contestants have to be uploaded on the Pnhzp's official FB page with the #IRPD2020 #PNHZP tags. The same photo should be sent to the Pnhzp's email id also, before 1 pm on 18.09.2020.

"The winners will be announced on September 19. Cash prizes of Rs 5000, Rs 3000 and Rs 2000 will be awarded to the first three winners of the photography contest," added the Director.

From September 14th to 19th, 2 pm to 3 pm educational videos on Red Panda behaviour, biology, threats, conservation, captive management, conservation breeding at PNHZP, red panda cubs, the ex-situ conservation breeding facility will be streamed on Fb Live.

Incidentally, the Pnhzp is the coordinating zoo for the Red Panda breeding programme (Project Red Panda) in India since the inception of the project in 1990. It has been a highly successful programme with many Red Pandas born in captivity at the Darjeeling Zoo.

With 3 newborn cubs (sex not determined) the count of red pandas have gone up to 24 (13 females and 8 males) at the two breeding centres and the zoo. In the past the Pnhzp has successfully released zoo born and bred Red Pandas in the wild.

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